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American EnchantmentRituals of the People in the Post-Revolutionary World$
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Michelle Sizemore

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190627539

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190627539.001.0001

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Magical Vanishing Point

Magical Vanishing Point

Missing People in the Revolutionary Romance

(p.133) 5 Magical Vanishing Point
American Enchantment

Michelle Sizemore

Oxford University Press

This chapter advances a new understanding of the historical romance as a medium for constituting the people via the readerly experience of enchantment. The motif of vanishing in the revolutionary romance, a generic subcategory, signals the absent historical present and the related challenge of representing the people in process. Contrary to a long tradition of literary criticism, the chapter argues that the genre of historical romance seeks to trace out the historical present amid lived conditions of uncertainty. In William Austin’s “Peter Rugg, the Missing Man” (1824) and Catharine Sedgwick’s The Linwoods (1835), two different forms of enchantment (supernatural and affective; the latter is The Linwood’s version of eros) serve as diagnostics on the present, as does the genre’s simultaneous prediction of the future and recreation of the past.

Keywords:   historical romance, Catharine Sedgwick, The Linwoods, William Austin, Peter Rugg, eros

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