By Dana Luciano
2008 Winner, MLA First booklet PrizeCharting the proliferation of sorts of mourning and memorial throughout a century more and more inquisitive about their ancient and temporal importance, Arranging Grief bargains an leading edge new view of the cultured, social, and political implications of emotion. Dana Luciano argues that the cultural plotting of grief presents a particular perception into the nineteenth-century American temporal imaginary, on the grounds that grief either underwrote the social preparations that supported the nation’s typical chronologies and backed alternative routes of advancing history.Nineteenth-century appeals to grief, as Luciano demonstrates, subtle modes of "sacred time" throughout either spiritual and ostensibly secular frameworks, without delay authorizing and unsettling verified schemes of connection to the previous and the longer term. studying mourning manuals, sermons, memorial tracts, poetry, and fiction through Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Apess, James Fenimore Cooper, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Susan Warner, Harriet E. Wilson, Herman Melville, Frances E. W. Harper, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Luciano illustrates the ways in which grief coupled the affective physique to time. Drawing on formalist, Foucauldian, and psychoanalytic feedback, Arranging Grief indicates how literary engagements with grief positioned forth methods of tough deep-seated cultural assumptions approximately historical past, growth, our bodies, and behaviors.
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Extra resources for Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America (Sexual Cultures: New Directions from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies)
Yet the widespread cultural appeal of grief, as I show, also offered reform-minded writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Apess a means of contesting the exclusionary time of national life by publicizing the grief it authored. Finally, the chapter closes with a consideration of the way the politicized time imagined in reform movements was distinguished from the prepolitical temporality associated with personal feeling. Examining grief’s appeal to love as the foundation of human relations, I uncover the asynchronic traces buried within consolation literature’s normalization of time through the structures of domestic privacy.
It comes when the world have forgotten that you have cause to weep; for when the eyes are dry, the heart is often bleeding. There are hours,—no, they are more concentrated than hours,— there are moments, when the thought of a lost and loved one, who has perished out of your family circle, suspends all interest in every thing else; when the memory of the departed ﬂoats over you like a wandering perfume, and recollections come in throngs with it, ﬂooding the soul with grief. 35 Adams’s description of such compressed moments highlights their alluring nature; despite the pain of the mourner’s “suffering,” the seductiveness of sorrow is amply demonstrated in his comparison of memory to “wandering perfume” and his emphasis on the soul-opening brought about by the sound of the departed’s name.
43 It was not only church-afﬁliated writers who emphasized this timeframe, however. The identity of proper mourning with progress was also foregrounded by an anonymous writer in the North American Review, who, in a discussion of the new rural cemeteries, chastised mourners who chose for the graves of their departed obelisks and other icons of ancient Egypt. Declaring that this imagery was “anterior to civilization” and thus could not be considered beautiful, the writer went on to argue that Egyptian architecture reminds us of the religion which called it into being—the most degraded and revolting paganism that ever existed.