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Oxford University Press, USA
With its filigreed, formidable representations of tears and suffering, sentimentalism has remained a divisive genre and category of analysis. On Sympathetic Grounds
offers a new interpretation of the sentimental by mapping its grounds in North America. During sweeping transformations of territory, land stewardship, personhood, and citizenship in the nineteenth century, sentimentalists evoked sympathy to express a desire for a place that was both territorial and emotional--what Naomi Greyser calls an affective geography. Greyser traces the intricacies attending Americans' sentimental sense that bodies could merge and mutually occupy the same space at the same time. Affective geographies complicate normative, linear assumptions about intimacy and distance, and consequently compel a reconsideration of geopolitics, geophysics and the distribution of resources and care.
Mapping feelings in and also about space, On Sympathetic Grounds
focuses on the experiences and perspectives of those whose bodies, labor and sovereignty have been occupied to ground others' lives and world-making projects. Bringing literary and rhetorical studies together with critical race and gender theory, cultural geography, American studies, affect studies and the new materialism, this book lays out sentimentalism's usefulness to settler colonialism and the maintenance of racialized labor. The book also carefully charts sentimentalism's value as a means of resisting geographic displacement and both physical and metaphysical dispossession.
Philosophers and rhetoricians regard grounds as necessary conditions for argumentation; Greyser treats grounds as also geopolitical, geoaffective, and geophysical. Sympathy has enriched conditions for living at the same time that it has mercilessly enlisted some bodies and lives as the grounds for others' wellbeing. Ultimately, On Sympathetic Grounds
uncovers a moving, non-linear cartography of sympathy's vital place in shaping North America.
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