A historic and symbolic city on the border between slavery and freedom, antebellum Philadelphia was home to one of the largest and most influential "free" African American communities in the United States. The city was seen by residents and observers as the stage on which the possibilities of freedom would be tested and a post-slavery future would be played out for the nation. Philadelphia's charged setting produced a distinctive literary tradition that confronted issues of race, character, violence, and liberty. Verbal performance and social behavior assumed the weight of race and nation. The city's social experiments would have international consequences.
This account of Philadelphia's literary history from 1790 to1860 brings together writers familiar (Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, John Edgar Wideman), lesser known (Hugh Henry Brackenridge, George Lippard, Frank J. Webb), and obscure (Mathew Carey, Robert Montgomery Bird, William Whipper, Joseph Willson). It draws on a host of diverse, often discounted expressive forms, from fever accounts and metempsychic fiction to caricatures and book covers.
Samuel Otter's authoritative study considers the significance of geographical, social, and literary "place." It offers a model for thinking about the relationships between literature and history and among European-American and African-American writers. It challenges conventional narratives of American literary history. And finally, it establishes Philadelphia as fundamental to our understanding of not only the political but also the imaginative life of nineteenth-century America.
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Title: Philadelphia Stories: America's Literature of Race and Freedom
Author: Samuel Otter
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Date Published: April 2010
Table of Contents:
INTRODUCTION: Philadelphia Stories, 1790-1860
1. FEVER Mathew Carey, Absalom Jones, Richard Allen, and the Color of Fever...
Ministers and Criminals: Richard Allen, John Joyce, and Peter Matthias Benjamin Rush's Heroic Interventions Mathew Carey's Fugitive Philadelphians Charles Brockden Brown's Experiments in Character
2. MANNERS Hugh Henry Brackenridge, and the Irrepressible Teague Edward W. Clay's "Life in Philadelphia"
"The Rage for Profiles": Silhouettes at Peale's Museum Philadelphia Metempsychosis in Robert Montgomery Bird's Sheppard Lee The Peculiar Position of Our People William Whipper and Debates in the Black Conventions..
Disfranchisement and Appeal Joseph Willson's Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia
"Doomed to Destruction": The History of Pennsylvania Hall The Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia, and Henry James's American Scene The Mysteries of the City: George Lippard, Edgar Allan Poe The Fiction of Riot: George Lippard, John Beauchamp Jones The Condition of the Free People of Color
4. FREEDOM The Struggle over "Philadelphia": Mary Howard Schoolcraft, Sara Josepha Hale, Martin Robison Delany, James McCune Smith, and William Whipper Frank J. Webb's The Garies and Their Friends
"A Rather Curious Protest"
Still Life in Georgia History and Farce Parlor and Riot Philadelphia Vanitas The Social Experiment in Herman Melville's Benito Cereno
CODA: John Edgar Wideman's Philadelphia
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