By Kevin Pelletier
targeting a variety of vital 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 precise, albeit in some way, fantasies of brutal violence opposed to slaveholders. What started as a sentimental technique quick turned an incendiary gesture, with antislavery reformers envisioning the whole annihilation of slaveholders and defenders of slavery.
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Extra resources for Apocalyptic Sentimentalism: Love and Fear in U.S. Antebellum Literature
Indeed, Walker’s Appeal is the first significant piece of antislavery discourse in which terror and love are at times linked in this way. These two impulses seem to be at odds with one another but Walker starts to position them side by side so that the former might serve as an incitement to the latter. What may seem counterintuitive to modern readers is precisely what Walker is beginning to apprehend: love is not an absolute or self-sufficient emotion but might instead require a threat to actuate its power.
In order to dramatize the way imbrications of love The Sentimental Apocalypse 23 and fear become constitutive of a nineteenth-century sentimental economy, I consider authors who are firmly established within the canon of sentimental fiction (like Harriet Beecher Stowe) alongside those who decidedly are not (like David Walker). The chapters in this book proceed chronologically and are meant to illustrate the emergence and unfolding of a tradition of sentimental representation in which depictions of God’s vengeance function as a necessary goad for love, and love, when it is fully realized, comes to express itself as a form of vengeance and violence that can be read as sentimental.
It is the slave. The account of apocalypse that is constructed in these instances acts as a highly racialized code for black insurrectionary violence. Apocalyptic Sentimentalism charts this shift in signification, where apocalyptic theology becomes a cipher for insurrectionary violence, and the panic over the possibility of slave violence becomes itself a sentimental mode. 45 There has been a tendency, however, for scholars to situate violent resistance to slavery in a revolutionary framework, so that acts of antislavery violence committed by black (and sometimes white) Americans fall within America’s revolutionary genealogy, beginning with its campaign against British colonial rule.