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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the critical history of Charles Brockden Brown’s Jane Talbot from the dominant reception of it as a failed novel and a capitulation to a gendered consumer market and political conservatism. Yet Jane Talbot deserves to be read not as expressing the rising interests of liberalism and imperialist nationalism but as critiquing their emergence, while also standing as a retrospective consideration of the flaws of 1790s Woldwinite claims for rational sentiment and progressive emulation as a mechanism for social betterment. Jane Talbot stands as one of the first American literary productions that self-consciously understands itself as a novel (rather than a “romance”) while also suggesting the limits to the novel form in a period of increasingly dominant economic and political liberalism.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, Jane Talbot, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, sentimentalism, capitalist world-system, liberalism, mesmerism, imperialism, masturbation

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