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Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860

 
 
 
 
Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860
Author: Jane Tompkins
ISBN 13: 9780195041194
ISBN 10: 195041194
Edition: 1
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: 1986-05-29
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
List Price: $51.00
 
 

What makes a literary classic? In "Sensational Designs" Jane Tompkins argues that it is not the intrinsic merit of a text, but rather the circumstances of its writing. Against the modernist belief that art, in order to be art, must be free from propaganda, Tompkins contends that writers like Brockden Brown, Cooper, Stowe, and Warner wrote in order to alter the face of the social world, not to elicit aesthetic appreciation.Thus, the value and significance of the novels, for readers of their time, depended on precisely those characteristics that formalist criticism has taught us to deplore: stereotyped characters, sensational plots, and cliched language.