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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter situates Charles Brockden Brown’s Gothic and sentimental novels in relation to the broader culture of novelistic miscellany that proliferated before 1820. It considers Brown’s contributions to contemporary narrative theory, his revision of the political economy of sentimentalism and the Gothic, and the historical formalism of episodic and picaresque narratives. It offers an overview of contemporary debates about the moral value of novel reading and considers contemporary calls for a novelistic culture of literary nationalism in terms of a broader, circum-Atlantic system of literary transmission and adaptation. It offers a heuristic account of the social function of the episode or fragment in early American imaginative writings and considers how Brown theorizes his relationship to the generically variable, constitutively elliptical nature of early American literary production more generally.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, novel, Gothic, sentimentalism, literary nationalism, picaresque, early American, episode, fragment, form

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