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Q&A | February 27, 2014

Rene Denfeld: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Rene Denfeld



Describe your latest book. The Enchanted is a story narrated by a man on death row. The novel was inspired by my work as a death penalty... Continue »
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    The Enchanted

    Rene Denfeld 9780062285508

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The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice from the Revolution to the Civil War

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The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice from the Revolution to the Civil War Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Condemned to hang after his raid on Harper's Ferry, John Brown prophesied that the crimes of a slave-holding land would be purged away only with blood. A study of omens, maledictions, and inspired invocations, The Oracle and the Curse examines how utterances such as Brown's shaped American literature between the Revolution and the Civil War.

In nineteenth-century criminal trials, judges played the role of law's living oracles, but offenders were also given an opportunity to address the public. When the accused began to turn the tables on their judges, they did so not through rational arguments but by calling down a divine retribution. Widely circulated in newspapers and pamphlets, these curses appeared to channel an otherworldly power, condemning an unjust legal system and summoning readers to the side of righteousness.

Exploring the modes of address that communicated the authority of law and the dictates of conscience in antebellum America's court of public opinion, Caleb Smith offers a new poetics of justice which assesses the nonrational influence that these printed confessions, trial reports, and martyr narratives exerted on their first audiences. Smith shows how writers portrayed struggles for justice as clashes between human law and higher authority, giving voice to a moral protest that transformed American literature.

Synopsis:

Caleb Smith explores the confessions, trial reports, maledictions, and martyr narratives that juxtaposed law and conscience in antebellum America's court of public opinion and shows how writers portrayed struggles for justice as clashes between human law and higher authority, giving voice to a moral protest that transformed American literature.

About the Author

Caleb Smith is Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University.

Yale University

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674073081
Author:
Smith, Caleb
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
American
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Subject:
Law-Legal History
Subject:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
Subject:
HISTORY / United States/Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Subject:
History - United States/19th Century
Copyright:
Series Volume:
A Poetics of Justice
Publication Date:
20130431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Law » Legal Guides and Reference
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » Revolution and Constitution Era
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice from the Revolution to the Civil War New Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674073081 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Caleb Smith explores the confessions, trial reports, maledictions, and martyr narratives that juxtaposed law and conscience in antebellum America's court of public opinion and shows how writers portrayed struggles for justice as clashes between human law and higher authority, giving voice to a moral protest that transformed American literature.
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