By Paul Hurh
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Extra resources for American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville
21 Feeling thinking here means that the terror which coincides with the scientific narrative and the paradox of objectivity can in some ways better describe those logics than bare accounts of them. In this way, my study treats literary affect as a philosophical mode and joins an ongoing discussion about American literature’s relation to philosophy. 22 These studies reflect the mood of Cavell from the start, his enduring concern with the crisis of skepticism and its sophistication, and the mood or attitude that he consistently adopts, which is more hopeful than skeptical, more cheerful than frightened.
In the interim, the American Revolution, the new republic, and the widespread escalation of manufacturing and industrial capacities made Poe’s United States a radically different context than Edwards’s colonial New England. Still, one context was similar: just as the Awakening revivals inscribed the importance of emotion to Edwards’s communities, so too did the renewed rhetoric of sentiment and sensation, the cult of feeling, in Poe’s United States reawaken affect and an interest in aesthetics.
Instead, terror disrupts categorization by being an aesthetic orientation, an effect, of the very categories of subject and object. That which experiences “tone,” in Ngai’s sense, cannot be either just subject or object itself—our affective capacities come to open a new mode of apprehension, one in which the experience of aesthetic effect dislodges the subject/object binary. Given the unique structure of terror as I have defined it above—as emerging from and being recursively amplified by the self ’s own struggle to rationalize it—the ambiguity built into the concept 18 INTRODUCTION of tone will allow a discussion of terror without either refitting it into subject/ object schemes or abandoning those schemes entirely.
American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville by Paul Hurh