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The Claims of Experience – Autobiography and American Democracy - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Claims of Experience: Autobiography and American Democracy

Nolan Bennett


Why have so many figures throughout American history proclaimed their life stories when confronted by great political problems? The Claims of Experience provides a new theory for what makes autobiography political throughout the history of the United States and today. Across five chapters, the book examines the democratic crises that encouraged a diverse cast of figures to tell their stories: Benjamin Franklin amid the revolutionary era and its aftermath, Frederick Douglass in the antebellum South and in abolitionist movements, Henry Adams in the Gilded Age and its anxieties of industrial chan ... More

Keywords: American politics, democracy, authority, life writing, autobiography, Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglass, Henry Adams, Emma Goldman, Whittaker Chambers

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780190060695
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190060695.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Nolan Bennett, author
Assistant Professor in Democracy and Justice Studies, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay