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Mania for FreedomAmerican Literatures of Enthusiasm from the Revolution to the Civil War$
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John Mac Kilgore

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469629728

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469629728.001.0001

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Enthusiasm, Event, Literature

(p.1) Introduction
Mania for Freedom

John Mac Kilgore

University of North Carolina Press

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.

Keywords:   Enthusiasm, transnationalism, American protest, American religion and secularization, affect theory, philosophy of the event, literatures of enthusiasm

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