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Maria A. Windell
Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC 27109-6000)
Transamerican Sentimentalism in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literary History

Transamerican Sentimentalism uncovers a crucial but unacknowledged emotional undercurrent that structures US literary forays into Mexico and the Caribbean. Critics including John Carlos Rowe, Elizabeth Dillon, and Robert S. Levine have begun mapping the historical palimpsest created by hemispheric literary, economic, and political exchanges; my work expands this project, tracing forsaken opportunities for peaceful transnational interaction amidst the nineteenth-century Americas' recurrent revolutions, slave rebellions, and independence wars. Texts not primarily considered sentimental, including slave narratives, governmental reports, and sensation novels, help to shape a transamerican US literary imaginary inflected by fleeting but forceful intrusions of affective discourse. As tearful women and sidetracked narrators interrupt violent encounters, they enact a sentimentalism that forges unexpected possibilities for multiethnic alliance even as it re-inscribes US hemispheric primacy.

Project fields:
American Literature

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2011 – 7/31/2011