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 aware sentimentality to be grounded on a common sense 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, specifically 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 possibility inspired—functioned in the culture of abolitionist sentimentality as an important goad for sympathy and love. Fear,then, used to be on the middle of nineteenth-century sentimental suggestions for inciting antislavery reform, bolstering love while love faltered, and working as a strong mechanism for setting up interracial sympathy. Depictions of God’s apocalyptic vengeance constituted the best technique for antislavery writers to generate a feeling of terror of their audience.

targeting a number of 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 in some way, fantasies of brutal violence opposed to slaveholders. What started as a sentimental process speedy turned an incendiary gesture, with antislavery reformers envisioning the whole annihilation of slaveholders and defenders of slavery.

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