Common Things: Romance and the Aesthetics of Belonging in Atlantic Modernity
What are the relationships between the books we read and the communities we share? Common Things explores how transatlantic romance revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth century influenced--and were influenced by--emerging modern systems of community. Drawing on the work of Washington Irving, Henry Mackenzie, Thomas Jefferson, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Montgomery Bird, and Charles Brockden Brown, the book shows how romance promotes a distinctive aesthetics of belonging--a mode of being in common tied to new qualities of the singular. Each chapter focuses on one of these common things--the stain of race, the "property" of personhood, ruined feelings, the genre of a text, and the event of history--and examines how these peculiar qualities work to sustain the coherence of our modern common places. In the work of Horace Walpole and Edgar Allan Poe, the book further uncovers an important--and never more timely--alternative aesthetic practice that reimagines community as an open and fugitive process rather than as a collection of common things.
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aesthetic allegory argues Arthur Mervyn belonging Benjamin blend body Brockden Brown Castle of Otranto chapter collection colonial Common Things concept conjure critics critique culture dialectical discourse dispossession distinction economy Edgar Allan Poe eighteenth-century emerging U.S. nation erotic Eureka event exchange feeling force fragmented genre Giorgio Agamben Gothic novel Gothic romance hereafter cited hiatus Horace Walpole human Ibid idea ideologies imagination Indian removal inessential infection Irving Irving’s Jacques Rancière language Lee’s Literary History literature Locke’s Lockean Logan logic Mackenzie’s material metempsychosis modality modern narrative narrator Native American nature novel object original Parrot personhood pest Poe’s political Prairies race racial relationship ruined Savillon Second Seminole War Seminole sentimental romance Sheppard Lee simply singular Sketch-Book slave slavery space Stanford story Strawberry Hill symbolic temporal text’s textual tion trans transformed uncanny unique violence Walpole’s Walpole’s Gothic Walter Benjamin Washington Irving