Download E-books The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice from the Revolution to the Civil War PDF

By Caleb Smith

Condemned to hold after his raid on Harper’s Ferry, John Brown prophesied that the crimes of a slave-holding land will be purged away simply with blood. A research of omens, maledictions, and encouraged invocations, The Oracle and the Curse examines how utterances equivalent to Brown’s formed American literature among the Revolution and the Civil War.

In nineteenth-century felony trials, judges performed the position of law’s dwelling oracles, yet offenders have been additionally given a chance to handle the general public. while the accused started to flip the tables on their judges, they did so now not via rational arguments yet by way of calling down a divine retribution. generally circulated in newspapers and pamphlets, those curses seemed to channel an otherworldly strength, condemning an unjust criminal method and summoning readers to the part of righteousness.

Exploring the modes of handle that communicated the authority of legislations and the dictates of moral sense in antebellum America’s courtroom of public opinion, Caleb Smith deals a brand new poetics of justice which assesses the nonrational impression that those published confessions, trial experiences, and martyr narratives exerted on their first audiences. Smith indicates how writers portrayed struggles for justice as clashes among human legislations and better authority, giving voice to an ethical protest that remodeled American literature.

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