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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter on Charles Brockden Brown’s 1801 romance Clara Howard traces critical responses from the early nineteenth century to the present and argues that this long fiction marks a crucial transition in the author’s literary career. If Howard was long regarded as a minor or “failed” fiction, recent work suggests that its complex turns on epistolarity and sentimentality reflect on the generic formats he utilized earlier in the 1790s and articulate a critical response to the shifts in literary culture that occur in the 1800s, as the aestheticized culture of bourgeois liberalism supplants the late-eighteenth-century “republic of letters.” As the last composed of the long-form romances of Brown’s much-studied 1797–1801 period, this text stands not as a marker of decline but as a turn toward narrative experimentation, a certain “proto-modernism,” and an analytical perspective on the cultural forces and institutions of the new liberal dominant.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, Clara Howard, romance, theory of the novel, epistolary fiction, sentimental fiction, liberalism, modernism, Woldwinite, capitalist world-system

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