By Dana Luciano
2008 Winner, MLA First booklet PrizeCharting the proliferation of sorts of mourning and memorial throughout a century more and more excited by their historic and temporal importance, Arranging Grief deals 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, due to the fact grief either underwrote the social preparations that supported the nation’s usual 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 tested schemes of connection to the prior and the longer term. analyzing mourning manuals, sermons, memorial tracts, poetry, and fiction via 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 exhibits how literary engagements with grief positioned forth methods of not easy deep-seated cultural assumptions approximately historical past, growth, our bodies, and behaviors.
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Additional 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)
The division between re- 40 MOMENTS MORE CONCENTRATED THAN HOURS demptive and nonredemptive relics imposed in this vision worked to assure that the sacred truths to which grief appealed would not be profaned by mere archaism. The Biopolitics of Feeling: Culture, Race, and National Subjects As we have seen thus far, the coupling of the feeling body to time enacted in the nineteenth-century appeal to grief—ﬁgured in Irving’s Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon as a marriage between the self and its noblest feelings, the “sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced”—was remarkably productive.
H. Fowler explained in an 1856 sermon, The feelings center the thoughts on the lamented ones, and much is recalled in connection with them, that had passed entirely from us. The heart fondly dwells on the review, and one thing is suggested after another, until a multitude of particulars are remembered, of which no note before appeared. And the inﬂuence of the example which memory thus brings before us is greatly energized. 22 In the Presbyterian minister’s protopsychological understanding of the mourning process, the interaction of attachment and memory creates an 31 MOMENTS MORE CONCENTRATED THAN HOURS “energized” image of the departed with signiﬁcant power over the bereaved.
44 In this aesthetic vision, memorial is meaningless, mere “superstition,” if it fails to articulate the present as linked to the Christian vision of eternity—a link that articulated the superiority of the nineteenth century to the primitive past. The spiritual impoverishment of that past is suggested by its purported attachment to the materiality of thingiﬁed bodies, apart from the sanctifying spirit that might redeem them. The pagan worship of lowly lifeforms suggests, for this writer, the desire for preservation of the body at the cost of the soul, a conﬂict articulated in the insistence that only two possible readings could be given to the space of death: it would reﬂect either termination or continuity, either the inescapable acting-out of a “melancholy” connection to the past or the prelude to the “brighter” future that connoted, at once, the promise of heaven and, implicitly, the teleological vision of humankind’s progress from degradation to enlightenment.