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Rethinking Sympathy and Human Contact in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
Hawthorne, Douglass, Stowe, Dickinson


Part of Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: March 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108481335

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • In accessible and impassioned discussions of literature and philosophy, this book reveals a surprising approach to the intractable problem of human contact. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emily Dickinson rethought the nature of human contact, turning away from transcendentalist approaches and towards sympathetic ones. Their second and third works portray social masks as insufficient, not deceptive, and thus human contact requires not violent striking through the mask but benevolent skepticism towards persons. They imagine that people feel real in a real world with real others when they care for others for the other's sake and when they make caring relationships the cornerstone of their own being. Grounded in philosophies of sympathy - including Adam Smith and J. G. Herder - and relational psychology - Winnicott and Benjamin - Rethinking Sympathy and Human Contact in Nineteenth-Century American Literature shows that antebellum literature rejects individualist definitions of the human and locates the antidote to human disconnection in sympathy.

    • Presents a new understanding of human contact as grounded not in truth but in sympathy
    • Presents an understanding of sympathy that corrects both overly negative and overly positive approaches to both sympathy and empathy
    • Focuses on the second and third works of authors famous for their first works
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108481335
    • length: 306 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Transcendental approaches to human contact
    2. 'Some true relation': the evolution of Hawthorne's understanding of human contact
    3. 'The sentiment of justice must revolt in every heart': Frederick Douglass, white empathy, and the humanity of black autobiography
    4. 'All the vivacities of life lie in differences': abrasive sympathy after Uncle Tom's Cabin
    5. 'Sweet skepticism of the heart”: Dickinson's sympathetic phenomenology.

  • Author

    Marianne Noble, American University, Washington DC
    Marianne Noble is the author of The Masochistic Pleasures of Sentimental Literature (2000), which won a Choice Outstanding Book Award. She also co-edited Emily Dickinson and Philosophy (Cambridge, 2013) and has published essays in Studies in American Fiction, The Yale Journal of Criticism, New England Quarterly, and The Emily Dickinson Journal. She has served on the Boards of American Literature, the Emily Dickinson International Society, Legacy, and the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review. In 2016, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Korea. She is an Associate Professor of Literature at American University, Washington DC and received her Ph.D. from Columbia University.

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