Enter your search into one or more of the boxes below:
You can refine your search by selecting from any of the options below:
Democratic Personality: Popular Voice and the Trial of American Authorship

Democratic Personality: Popular Voice and the Trial of American Authorship (Hardback)

Usually despatched within 2 weeks.
Order now for Free delivery in the UK.
More on delivery...


This book proposes a new view of the democratization of America by recasting democracy as a symbolic theater, historically realized in an untheorized and irrational public utterance that began with the Salem witchcraft crisis of 1692 and extended through the Great Awakening and the antebellum era. This discursive practice gave rise, as popular voice, to a distinctive mode of political and literary subjectivity, "democratic personality," which emerged without reference to the political-philosophical currents and attendant humanistic values that anticipated the formation of a liberal democratic society.

The author constructs a genealogy of democratic personality by examining the historical and, later, fictional theaters within which it emerged to redefine the relation of appearance to reality and thus challenge hierarchies of political and cultural power. Its history, as outlined in the first half of the book, traces how colonial culture forsook Puritan cosmology to embrace the complex cultural semiosis of a democratic society based on the representational potential of the individual. As a strategy for self-production that spurred an urgent inquiry into the ontological status of representation, democratic personality crucially influenced the rise of a national literature by complicating the ideological problem of establishing a "democratic" poetics.

The second half of the book examines the development-in the work of Brown, Crevecoeur, Burroughs, Cooper, Emerson, and Whitman-of an American "aesthetic of innocence." As a platform for the production of a national literature that would claim a unique exemption from the deformations of fiction, the aesthetic of innocence evolved into the practice of a literary eugenics that intended to domesticate democratic personality by embracing its primitive energies as uniquely American while attempting to contain the subversive uncontainability of its voice. The book concludes with a reading of Billy Budd, Melville's novelistic rejection of liberal culture's attempt to domesticate democratic personality.

Essays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: general Publisher: Stanford University Press Publication Date: 01/05/1998 ISBN-13: 9780804730969  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: Usually despatched within 2 weeks. Login for Quick Checkout Add to Basket

More books by Nancy Ruttenburg

Leave Review


Delivery Options

All delivery times quoted are the average, and cannot be guaranteed. These should be added to the availability message time, to determine when the goods will arrive. During checkout we will give you a cumulative estimated date for delivery.

Location 1st Book Each additional book Average Delivery Time
UK Standard Delivery FREE FREE 3-5 Days
UK First Class £4.50 £1.00 1-2 Days
UK Courier £7.00 £1.00 1-2 Days
Western Europe** Courier £17.00 £3.00 2-3 Days
Western Europe** Airmail £5.00 £1.50 4-14 Days
USA / Canada Courier £20.00 £3.00 2-4 Days
USA / Canada Airmail £7.00 £3.00 4-14 Days
Rest of World Courier £22.50 £3.00 3-6 Days
Rest of World Airmail £8.00 £3.00 7-21 Days

** Includes Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Delivery Help & FAQs

Returns Information

If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase*, you may return it to us in its original condition with in 30 days of receiving your delivery or collection notification email for a refund. Except for damaged items or delivery issues the cost of return postage is borne by the buyer. Your statutory rights are not affected.

* For Exclusions and terms on damaged or delivery issues see Returns Help & FAQs

You might also like

Censorship of Literature in...
Alireza Abiz
The Postcolonial Contemporary:...
Jini Kim Watson; Gary Wilder; Sadia...
The Mediated Mind: Affect, Ephemera,...
Susan Zieger
Writing the Field Recording: Sound,...
Stephen Benson
Latest Blog
On Memory and Forgetting

David Whitehouse talks to us about memory and forgetting, and how his personal experience influenced his new novel, The Long Forgotten.

The End of the F***ing World creator, Charles Forsman, picks his favourite coming of age books

The End of the F***ing World creator, Charles Forsman, picks his favourite coming of age books.

#FoylesFive: Annihilation

With the release of Annihilation on Netflix it's the perfect time to catch up with the book that starts Jeff VanderMeer's unsettling Southern Reach trilogy.

View all Blog Entries
Show/Hide Tweets
© W&G Foyle Ltd