Download American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, by Paul Hurh PDF

By Paul Hurh

If the US is a kingdom based upon Enlightenment beliefs, then why are such a lot of of its so much celebrated items of literature so darkish? American Terror returns to the query of yank literature's specific tone of terror via a detailed research of 3 authors—Jonathan Edwards, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville—who not just wrote works of terror, yet who defended, theorized, and championed it. Combining up-to-date historic views with shut analyzing, Paul Hurh indicates how those authors built terror as a unique literary have an effect on trained incidentally the concept that of pondering turns into, within the wake of Enlightenment empiricism, more and more outlined by way of a suite of austere mechanic methods, equivalent to the clinical procedure and the algebraic features of analytical common sense. instead of looking for a sense that may go beyond considering by means of subtending cause to emotion, those writers present in terror the sensation of pondering, the strange feeling of reason's authority over emotional schemes. In so doing, they grappled with a shared set of tolerating questions: what's the distinction among pondering and feeling? after we recognize anything, how will we comprehend that we all know it? Why does it look very unlikely to cause oneself out of an irrational worry? And what turns into of the liberty of the desire once we realize that is affecting can push it around?

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Additional resources for American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville

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Thoughts are actions in American literature,” Andrea Knutson writes, a conflation that necessitates “the articulation of a habit of thinking in order to guide that movement which results in cultural revision” (12). Whether moving toward cultural revision, getting “to possibilities of personal or cultural renewal” (Poirier 11), or performing a ministerial function “requisite to keeping a community together” (Richardson 3), these studies return a renewed appreciation for the complex communitarian and progressive strategies associated with an optimistic strain of American literature.

The two chapters together read Poe’s tales as not, or at least not only, critiques of the limits of reason but rather as experiments through which he imagined a literature modeled upon objective method. That these tales are frequently terrifying, however, should not be taken as a sign of their shortcomings but, as in Edwards’s terror of conviction, as a display of their truth. 29 Ultimately, what endorses such a critical methodology cannot be any local or political action that issues from it but rather, at heart, the feeling of reason’s implacable demands of objectivity.

Most accounts of the “darker” tone of American literature sense a connection between that tone and the centrality of the fear of hell in the Puritan culture of early New England. By comparing the hellfire sermons of earlier generations of Puritan ministers with those of the Great Awakening, my first chapter shows how the significance of terror in the religious and communal life of New England turns from being a cautionary and practical rhetoric of avoiding evil external influences to, in later generations, being an immanent and ideal rhetoric of confronting the evil in oneself.

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