Enthusiasm, Event, Literature
This chapter provides an overview of the book’s historical, political, and literary material. It is broken into three sections. The first section situates “enthusiasm” in relationship to the modern critique of revolution and leveling democracy, specifically the American and French Revolution, through discussions of Edmund Burke and William Blake. The second section argues for enthusiasm’s importance to transnational studies of American literature, histories of American protest and American religion, affect theory, and philosophies of emancipation (or “the event”). The third section defines what the author calls “literatures of enthusiasm” as a convulsive writing of political crisis encouraging acts of dissent and liberation, using Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman as examples.
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