Download American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, by Paul Hurh PDF

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By Paul Hurh

If the US is a state based upon Enlightenment beliefs, then why are such a lot of of its so much celebrated items of literature so darkish? American Terror returns to the query of yank literature's targeted tone of terror via a detailed examine of 3 authors—Jonathan Edwards, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville—who not just wrote works of terror, yet who defended, theorized, and championed it. Combining up-to-date old views with shut studying, Paul Hurh exhibits how those authors built terror as a distinct literary impact expert incidentally the concept that of pondering turns into, within the wake of Enlightenment empiricism, more and more outlined by way of a suite of austere mechanic strategies, equivalent to the clinical technique and the algebraic services of analytical good judgment. instead of looking for a sense that will go beyond considering via subtending cause to emotion, those writers present in terror the sensation of pondering, the odd feeling of reason's authority over emotional schemes. In so doing, they grappled with a shared set of putting up with questions: what's the distinction among pondering and feeling? after we comprehend whatever, how will we be aware of that we all know it? Why does it look most unlikely to cause oneself out of an irrational worry? And what turns into of the liberty of the need after we detect that is affecting can push it around?

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Additional resources for American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville

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However, by considering the sources for his metaphysical speculation, the influence of the Port-Royal Logic and other logic textbooks, I show how the new terror defined in the first half of the chapter obtains a structural resemblance to the abstract space of geometry and the method of thinking more essentially. Edwards was attracted to the metadiscourse of method, the idea that the way one thinks affects what one comes to know. And as the Calvinist beliefs in the lack of free will and total dependence upon God drew from a rigorous rethinking of intellectual method, so too may Edwards’s strange new terrors—the terrible tone of damnation and hellfire—be seen to bear, in grasping after the infinite and in portraying the affective subject INTRODUCTION 27 reduced to nothingness, the tone of objectivity, or more precisely, the tone of the impossible task of objectivity, carried out through method and authorized by the feeling of first principles.

The chiastic nature of these moves, shuttling emphasis between the literary affect of terror and the discourse of scientific logic, will hopefully gesture at the immanence of both orientations, even if we must inhabit each position sequentially. In a similar fashion, this book tells two complementary stories about each of the three authors: one which attempts to reveal the historical context of each author’s unique evocations of terror, and another that considers the particular aesthetic effects of their works as contributions to those intellectual contexts.

To that end, I reconsider the difference in hellfire preaching between the late seventeenth century and the revivals of the early eighteenth century. I then go on in the second part of the chapter to address Gura’s intimation that Edwards was not really as obsessed with terror as the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” would portray. In order to ascertain just how atypical his hellfire is, I survey Edwards’s sermons and situate his own brand of hellfire as central to the period’s changing conceptions of affect.

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