REVIEWS beyond the territory of republican political culture. When it does so, this otherwise excellent study sometimes fails to fully articulate the relation of political deception to other obstacles to discernment, such as those contained within the market economy. Along similar lines, one might wonder how the civic uses of discernment interacted with the visual imperatives of moral and religious reform. The author identifies Scottish Common Sense philosophy as the intellectual foundation of republican spectatorship, without addressing its equal importance as a bulwark of religious faith--an oversight (pardon the pun) when one considers Protestantism's historical antipathy to illusion. In a similar example, Leigh Eric Schmidt's earlier interpretation of the Invisible Lady as a contest between the Enlightenment and the Second Great Awakening is mentioned, but never fully related to Bellion's argument. Citizen Spectator's focus on citizenship formation is largely justified, given its illusions' primary audience: the civically engaged Philadelphia merchants--white, male, and usually affluent--who patronized Peale's museum and subscribed to Birch's Views. As illusions such as the Invisible Lady expanded into vernacular spaces, their appeal began to shift: The Enlightenment pursuit of undeceiving yielded (if incompletely) to a Romantic absorption in illusion. A final chapter follows this transformation
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Aug 18, 2015
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