Apocalyptic Sentimentalism: Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum by Kevin Pelletier

By Kevin Pelletier

In distinction to the existing scholarly con-sensus that is familiar with sentimentality to be grounded on a good judgment of affection and sympathy, Apocalyptic Sentimentalism demonstrates that during order for sentimentality to paintings as an antislavery engine, it had to be associated with its seeming opposite—fear, particularly the terror of God’s wrath. so much antislavery reformers well-known that demands love and sympathy or the illustration of discomfort slaves wouldn't lead an viewers to “feel correct” or to actively oppose slavery. the specter of God’s apocalyptic vengeance—and the phobia that this probability inspired—functioned in the culture of abolitionist sentimentality as an important goad for sympathy and love. Fear,then, was once on the heart of nineteenth-century sentimental concepts for inciting antislavery reform, bolstering love while love faltered, and working as a robust mechanism for developing interracial sympathy. Depictions of God’s apocalyptic vengeance constituted the best process for antislavery writers to generate a feeling of terror of their audience.

concentrating on various very important anti-slavery figures, together with David Walker, Nat Turner, Maria Stewart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown, Apocalyptic Sentimentalism illustrates how antislavery discourse labored to redefine violence and vengeance because the final expression (rather than denial) of affection and sympathy. on the sametime, those warnings of apocalyptic retribution enabled antislavery writers to specific, albeit not directly, fantasies of brutal violence opposed to slaveholders. What all started as a sentimental approach speedy turned an incendiary gesture, with antislavery reformers envisioning the entire annihilation of slaveholders and defenders of slavery.

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