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Improving Passions$
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Charles Burnetts

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780748698196

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748698196.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 03 April 2020

Towards a Genealogy of Sentimentalism in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Towards a Genealogy of Sentimentalism in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

(p.22) Chapter 1 Towards a Genealogy of Sentimentalism in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Improving Passions

Charles Burnetts

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter One charts a genealogy of the sentimental mode, from the sentimental literary cultures of 18th century Europe through to the widespread success of popular melodrama in Europe and America. It draws connections between the sentimental novel, ‘Moral Sense’ philosophy of the 18th century ‘Scottish Enlightenment’, and 19th century melodrama, as discourses and traditions each bound up with questions relating to affect, the subject and society. While textual analysis of specific texts seeks to draw out the continuities and problematics of sentimentalism as a literary and theatrical genre, a focus remains on establishing the critical contours of the term’s cultural history. The section’s particular aim is to trace the term’s fall from grace while nevertheless establishing its full theoretical significance to film theory. It will also review influential literary scholarship on the cultural gendering of sentimentalism of the period, whether discerned in the ideological consolidation of bourgeois society, the continuance of sentimental narrative in theatrical melodrama and the novel (Stowe, Dickens) or in the various periodicals, guidebooks and assorted paraphernalia that make up a feminizing culture for theorists like Ann Douglas, Jane Tompkins and Lauren Berlant.

Keywords:   Moral Sense, David Hume, Sentimental Novel, Melodrama, Eighteenth Century, Sensibility, Adam Smith, Cavell, Women, Virtue

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