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Slavery, Philosophy, and American Literature, 1830-1860by Maurice S. Lee
Synopses & Reviews
Examining the literature of slavery and race before the Civil War, Maurice Lee demonstrates for the first time exactly how the slavery crisis became a crisis of philosophy that exposed the breakdown of national consensus and the limits of rational authority. Poe, Stowe, Douglass, Melville, and Emerson were among the antebellum authors who tried - and failed - to find rational solutions to the slavery conflict. Unable to mediate the slavery controversy as the nation moved toward war, their writings form an uneasy transition between the confident rationalism of the American Enlightenment and the more skeptical thought of the pragmatists. Lee draws on antebellum moral philosophy, political theory, and metaphysics, bringing a fresh perspective to the literature of slavery - one that synthesizes cultural studies and intellectual history to argue that romantic, sentimental, and black Atlantic writers all struggled with modernity when facing the slavery crisis.
Maurice Lee demonstrates how the slavery crisis became a crisis of philosophy. Authors including Poe, Stowe, Douglass, Melville, and Emerson tried - and failed - to find rational solutions to the slavery conflict. Drawing on antebellum moral philosophy, political theory, and metaphysics, Lee brings a fresh perspective to the literature of slavery.
Lee demonstrates how Melville, Emerson and others tried to find rational solutions to the slavery conflict.
About the Author
Maurice S. Lee is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Missouri.
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1. Absolute Poe; 2. 'Lord, it's so hard to be good': affect and agency in Stowe; 3. Taking care of the philosophy: Douglass's common sense; 4. Melville and the state of war; 5. Toward a transcendental politics: Emerson's second thoughts; Epilogue: an unfinished and not unhappy ending.
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