The subject of Michael Warner's book is the rise of a nation. America, he shows, became a nation by developing a new kind of reading public, where one becomes a citizen by taking one's place as writer or reader. At heart, the United States is a republic of letters, and its birth can be dated from changes in the culture of printing in the early eighteenth century. The new and widespread use of print media transformed the relations between people and power in a way that set in motion the republican structure of government we have inherited. Examining books, pamphlets, and circulars, he merges theory and concrete analysis to provide a multilayered view of American cultural development.
The founding of the United States after the American Revolution was so deliberate and monumental in scope that the key actors considered this new government to be a work of art framed from natural rights. Recognizing the artificial nature of the state, these early politicians believed the culture of a people should inform the development of their governing rules and bodies. The author explores these central ideas in this account of the origins and meanings of the U.S. Constitution. He reveals the cultural histories upon which the document rests, highlights the voices of ordinary people, and considers how the artifice of the state was challenged in its effort to sustain inalienable natural rights alongside slavery and to achieve political secularization at a moment of growing religious expression.
Since the American Revolution, there has been broad cultural consensus that “the people” are the only legitimate ground of public authority in the United States. For just as long, there has been disagreement over who the people are and how they should be represented or institutionally embodied. In Constituent Moments, Jason Frank explores this dilemma of authorization: the grounding of democratic legitimacy in an elusive notion of the people. Frank argues that the people are not a coherent or sanctioned collective. Instead, the people exist as an effect of successful claims to speak on their behalf; the power to speak in their name can be vindicated only retrospectively. The people, and democratic politics more broadly, emerge from the dynamic tension between popular politics and representation. They spring from what Frank calls “constituent moments,” moments when claims to speak in the people’s name are politically felicitous, even though those making such claims break from established rules and procedures for representing popular voice. Elaborating his theory of constituent moments, Frank focuses on specific historical instances when under-authorized individuals or associations seized the mantle of authority, and, by doing so, changed the inherited rules of authorization and produced new spaces and conditions for political representation. He looks at crowd actions such as parades, riots, and protests; the Democratic-Republican Societies of the 1790s; and the writings of Walt Whitman and Frederick Douglass. Frank demonstrates that the revolutionary establishment of the people is not a solitary event, but rather a series of micropolitical enactments, small dramas of self-authorization that take place in the informal contexts of crowd actions, political oratory, and literature as well as in the more formal settings of constitutional conventions and political associations.
Executing Democracy: Capital Punishment & the Making of America, 1683-1807 is the first volume of a rhetorical history of public debates about crime, violence, and capital punishment in America. This examination begins in 1683, when William Penn first struggled to govern the rowdy indentured servants of Philadelphia, and continues up until 1807, when the Federalists sought to impose law-and-order upon the New Republic. This volume offers a lively historical overview of how crime, violence, and capital punishment influenced the settling of the New World, the American Revolution, and the frantic post-war political scrambling to establish norms that would govern the new republic. By presenting a macro-historical overview, and by filling the arguments with voices from different political camps and communicative genres, Hartnett provides readers with fresh perspectives for understanding the centrality of public debates about capital punishment to the history of American democracy.
In the decades before the Civil War, American society witnessed the emergence of a new form of print culture, as penny papers, mammoth weeklies, giftbooks, fashion magazines, and other ephemeral printed materials brought exuberance and theatricality to public culture and made the practice of reading more controversial. For a short yet pivotal period, argues Isabelle Lehuu, the world of print was turned upside down. Unlike the printed works of the eighteenth century, produced to educate and refine, the new media aimed to entertain a widening yet diversified public of men and women. As they gained popularity among American readers, these new print forms provoked fierce reactions from cultural arbiters who considered them transgressive. No longer the manly art of intellectual pursuit, reading took on new meaning; reading for pleasure became an act with the power to silently disrupt the social order. Neither just an epilogue to an earlier age of scarce books and genteel culture nor merely a prologue to the late nineteenth century and its mass culture and commercial literature, the antebellum era marked a significant passage in the history of books and reading in the United States, Lehuu argues. Originally published 2000. A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.
In this study of the rhetoric of American writings on language, Michael Kramer argues that the prevalent critical distinction between imaginative and nonimaginative writing is of limited theoretical use. Breaking down the artificial, disciplinary barriers between two areas of scholarly inquiry--the literature of the American Renaissance and the study of language in the United States between the Revolution and the Civil War--Kramer finds in various walks of intellectual life a broad range of writers who "imagined language" for the new experiment in self-government. Each of these men combined ideas about language with ideas about America so as to form cultural fictions, or creative renderings of the nation--its meaning, its character, and how it worked. In order to reassess American linguistic and literary nationalism, Kramer allows Noah Webster, whose influential grammatical and lexicographic works have been considered only marginal to literary history, to share the stage with more conventionally literary figures--the neglected Longfellow and the canonical Whitman. Then an essay on The Federalist and the pragmatic language-related problems faced by the founding fathers introduces revisionary analyses of two New England writers who confronted American culture and society through their Romantic critiques of language: the minister and theologian Horace Bushnell and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Originally published in 1991. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
"In this physically small but conceptually rich volume, Cherniavsky begins by situating the notion of essentialized motherhood within the constitution of modern bourgeois subjectivity and, more specifically, of a rational democratic social order in early national America." -- American Literature "... an admirable contribution to the current debates over the meaning and implications of motherhood in contemporary culture." -- UCG Women's Studies Centre Review "With its wide range of reference and use of sophisticated critical paradigms, this book is a demanding study that will be of special interest to readers concerned with 19th century American fiction and current debates surrounding the maternal." -- Studies on Women Abstracts That Pale Mother Rising concerns the persistence of essentialized motherhood in the midst of the postmodern, linking nineteenth-century sentimentalism to the American founders' understanding of the democratic social body.