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Apocalyptic GeographiesReligion, Media, and the American Landscape$
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Jerome Tharaud

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691200101

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691200101.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 28 May 2022

The Sensational Republic

The Sensational Republic

Catholic Conspiracy and the Battle for the Great West

Chapter:
(p.214) 6 The Sensational Republic
Source:
Apocalyptic Geographies
Author(s):

Jerome Tharaud

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691200101.003.0007

This chapter descends into the profane depths of antebellum literary culture to probe the ways religious difference haunts the sensational public sphere. It traces a neglected body of popular fiction that circulated in the “Great West” in the 1840s and 1850s. It also argues that the violent, quasi-pornographic novels stage vivid scenes of vision across the landscape that articulate a regional strain of republican ideology. The chapter mentions Catholic conspiracies and corrupt Protestant elites who constantly threaten the body politic in fiction that dramatize the dilemmas of political mediation in an expanding federal republic. It cites Talal Asad's critique of secularism's fictions of “direct access,” which exposes the roots of the convulsions that grip Western liberal democracies today as a crisis of mediation.

Keywords:   antebellum literary culture, Great West, republican ideology, Catholic conspiracies, Protestant elites, federal republic

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