Revolutionary representations in antebellum periodicals



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“Revolutionary Representations in Antebellum Periodicals” examines invocations of the American Revolutionary War in novels serialized during the mid-nineteenth century. E.D.E.N. Southworth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Gilmore Simms, and Herman Melville depicted this foundational conflict and its ideological legacies in periodicals ranging from the antislavery National Era to the sectionalist Southern Literary Gazette, “quality” literary magazines including Putnam’s and the Atlantic Monthly, and the popular women’s and family magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. The first two chapters consider novels that address the legacy of the American Revolution in the antebellum South. Southworth and Stowe portray voluntary manumission as a means for forestalling national dissolution or insurrection in inter-sectional novels published in the National Era. William Gilmore Simms counters their approaches in historical romances that dismiss the imperative of universal emancipation in favor of an assertion of independence from incursive imperial and, subsequently, federal forces. The latter two chapters examine how Melville and Stowe reconciled the narrative aesthetics and demands of biography and romance while complicating the cultural legacies of the Revolution in fictionalized historical biographies of a northern soldier and minister.