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Philadelphia Stories America's Literature of Race and Freedom



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Oxford University Press
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This is the Reprint edition with a publication date of 2/1/2013.

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  • Philadelphia Stories America's Literature of Race and Freedom
    Philadelphia Stories America's Literature of Race and Freedom


InPhiladelphia Stories, Samuel Otter finds literary value, historical significance, and political urgency in a sequence of texts written in and about Philadelphia between the Constitution and the Civil War. Historians such as Gary B. Nash and Julie Winch have chronicled the distinctive social and political space of early national Philadelphia. Yet while individual writers such as Charles Brockden Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, and George Lippard have been linked to Philadelphia, no sustained attempt has been made to understand these figures, and many others, as writing in a tradition tied to the city's history. The site of William Penn's "Holy Experiment" in religious toleration and representative government and of national Declaration and Constitution, near the border between slavery and freedom, Philadelphia was home to one of the largest and most influential "free" African American communities in the United States. The city was seen by residents and observers as the laboratory for a social experiment with international consequences. Philadelphia would be the stage on which racial character would be tested and a possible future for the United States after slavery would be played out. It would be the arena in which various residents would or would not demonstrate their capacities to participate in the nation's civic and political life. Otter argues that the Philadelphia "experiment" (the term used in the nineteenth-century) produced a largely unacknowledged literary tradition of peculiar forms and intensities, in which verbal performance and social behavior assumed the weight of race and nation.

Author Biography

Samuel Otter is Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Melville's Anatomies and the coeditor, with Geoffrey Sanborn, of Melville and Aesthetics.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Philadelphia Stories, 1790-1860
Mathew Carey, Absalom Jones, Richard Allen, and the Color of Fever
Ministers and Criminals: Richard Allen, John Joyce, and Peter Matthias
Benjamin Rush's Heroic Interventions
Mathew Carey's Fugitive Philadelphians
Charles Brockden Brown's Experiments in Character
Hugh Henry Brackenridge, and the Irrepressible Teague
Edward W. Clay's "Life in Philadelphia"
"The Rage for Profiles": Silhouettes at Peale's Museum
Philadelphia Metempsychosis in Robert Montgomery Bird's Sheppard Lee"
The Peculiar Position of Our People": William Whipper and Debates in the Black Conventions
Disfranchisement and Appeal
Joseph Willson's Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia
Riot"Doomed to Destruction": The History of Pennsylvania Hall
The Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia, and Henry James's American Scene The Mysteries of the City: George Lippard, Edgar Allan Poe
The Fiction of Riot: George Lippard, John Beauchamp Jones
The Condition of the Free People of Color
The Struggle over "Philadelphia": Mary Howard Schoolcraft, Sara Josepha
Hale, Martin Robison Delany, James McCune Smith, and William Whipper
Frank J. Webb's The Garies and Their Friends
"A Rather Curious Protest"
Still Life in Georgia
History and Farce
Parlor and Riot
Philadelphia Vanitas
The Social Experiment in Herman Melville's Benito Cereno
CODA: John Edgar Wideman's Philadelphia
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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