Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
City of Second SightNineteenth-Century Boston and the Making of American Visual Culture$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Justin T. Clark

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469638737

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638737.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 30 May 2020

Enchanting the City

Enchanting the City

(p.167) 6 Enchanting the City
City of Second Sight

Justin T. Clark

University of North Carolina Press

As the Second Great Awakening convulsed Boston, liberal Protestants inoculated themselves and their children against irreligious superstition by cultivating a belief in fairies and fairyland. Pointedly allegorical, fairy culture affirmed the genteel, pious and natural sensibility of liberal Protestantism, while simultaneously parodying the lower orders’ supposed susceptibility to illusion. By the 1840s, fairy tales and theatrical fairy spectacles performed at venues such as the Boston Museum served another role: encouraging urbanites to see their class-riven city as an enchanted and abundant metropolis built by truly “free labor,” rather than by morally dubious vanity and capitalist exploitation. Reframing the spectacle of luxury as a magical reward for goodhearted spectators, commercial fairy culture hastened the decline of visual didacticism into outright escapism. For these viewers, the fairy city replaced the tangible civic vistas of Chapters One and Two.

Keywords:   Fairy spectacles, Boston theater, Enchantment, Boston Museum, Illusion

North Carolina Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .