ESSAYS Marissa Carrere University of Massachusetts Amherst ritten in the wake of the Nullification Crisis over tariffs on manufactured goods in which South Carolina threatened to leave the Union, Catharine Maria Sedgwick's 1835 novel The Linwoods stages the anxieties that condense around the desire to believe that democracy follows timeless certainties and the knowledge that its process necessarily entails negotiating contingent and ephemeral opinions. The Linwoods suggests that such irresolvable tension is vital to democratic thought, and Sedgwick uses the figure of the child to represent that tension. Because of nineteenth-century constructions of children as both malleable and transcendent, the figure of the child permits Sedgwick to dramatize the conflict between the self-evident truth and radical revisability of the Constitution and the patriotic feelings of American citizens. As the novel investigates the nature of both national and political commitments, Sedgwick uses the figural child to assert normative claims in response to her particular politico-historical moment while troubling the theoretical integrity of those claims. In limning Sedgwick's move toward the theoretical realm, my project aims to expand our understanding of how the child operates in the political literary imagination and to recognize Sedgwick's contributions to the archives of democracy.
Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jun 20, 2017
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