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Forms of freedom : aesthetics, law, and politics in the American Renaissance

Hannum, Dustin E. (1979 - ); Michael, John (1953 - )
Fonte: University of Rochester Publicador: University of Rochester
Tipo: Tese de Doutorado Formato: Number of Pages:vii, 244 leaves
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Rochester. Dept. of English, 2012.; Forms of Freedom: Aesthetics, Law, and Politics in the American Renaissance reconsiders the relationship between aesthetics and democratic authority during the most tumultuous period of American history: the decade before the Civil War. It argues that, for antebellum Americans, aesthetics and law were not just related, but mutually informing categories. The United States’ emergent national identity hinged on both its perception of itself as a nation devoted to universal principles of justice and democratic sovereignty—in a word, “freedom”—and the preservation of those sacred principles by foundational texts that gave formal expression to them. This was a particular problem for the United States in the 1850s, as the nation became increasingly divided over the conflict between its abstract and universalist ideals, and its established legal and political institutions—notably slavery. The simultaneous and conflicting emphasis on the authority of texts, the autonomy of the individual, and the need for rational consensus thus created fundamental dilemmas that troubled Americans deeply during the period that was long seen as a time of the cultural flowering of the potentialities of democracy. This dissertation argues...