Sentimentalism in Nineteenth-Century America: Literary and Cultural Practices
Editor: Mary DeJong
Contributing Author: Elizabeth A. Petrino
Elizabeth Petrino is a contributing author, “‘Language of the Eye’: Communication and Sentimental Benevolence in Lydia Sigourney’s Poems and Essays about the Deaf", pp. 69-88.
Book description: Sentimentalism emerged in eighteenth-century Europe as a moral philosophy founded on the belief that individuals are able to form relationships and communities because they can, by an effort of the imagination, understand one another’s feelings. American authors of both sexes who accepted these views cultivated readers’ sympathy with others in order to promote self-improvement, motivate action to relieve suffering, reinforce social unity, and build national identity. Entwined with domesticity and imperialism and finding expression in literature and in public and private rituals, sentimentalism became America’s dominant ideology by the early nineteenth century. Sentimental writings and practices had political uses, some reformist and some repressive. They played major roles in the formation of bourgeois consciousness.
The first new collection of scholarly essays on American sentimentalism since 1999, this volume brings together ten recent studies, eight published here for the first time. The Introduction assesses the current state of sentimentalism studies; the Afterword reflects on sentimentalism as a liberal discourse central to contemporary political thought as well as literary studies. Other contributors, exploring topics characteristic of the field today, examine nineteenth-century authors’ treatments of education, grief, social inequalities, intimate relationships, and community.
Petrino, Elizabeth. “‘Language of the Eye’: Communication and Sentimental Benevolence in Lydia Sigourney’s Poems and Essays about the Deaf,” IN Sentimentalism in Nineteenth-Century America: Literary and Cultural Practices, ed. Mary DeJong, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013. 69-88. 9781611476057
DeJong, Mary and Petrino, Elizabeth A., "Sentimentalism in Nineteenth-Century America: Literary and Cultural Practices" (2013). English Faculty Book Gallery. 58.