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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter concerns Charles Brockden Brown’s engagement with the visual arts. It explores Brown’s early adaptations of contemporary aesthetic categories, tracing his transition between the neoclassical and early-Romantic movements in his journalistic essays as well as his four Gothic novels. These early aesthetic concerns are linked to discursive cultivations of the American landscape, variously connected to the period’s expanding interest in picturesque tourism and early American boosterism or to Brown’s interest in constructing the American landscape symbolically or allegorically by adapting the new vocabularies of the Gothic and picturesque to explore the tensions of settler-colonial spaces in the new nation. It also touches on Brown’s ongoing fascination with visionary architecture, providing an overview of his unpublished juvenile architectural drawings. Finally, it expands on Brown’s fascination with the social, symbolic, and economic functions of portraiture in his fiction, registering early American anxiety about identity.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, aesthetics, Gothic, visual arts, portraiture, architecture, sublime, picturesque, landscape, tourism

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