Charles Brockden Brown

Charles Brockden Brown

Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
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  • Book Info
    Charles Brockden Brown
    Book Description:

    This study of the works of late eighteenth-century American Gothic author Charles Brockden Brown argues that Brown was a seminal figure in the development of four forms of Gothic fiction: the Frontier Gothic, the Urban Gothic, the Psychological Gothic, and the Female Gothic; that Brown represents a crucial transitional figure between the Age of the Enlightenment and nineteenth-century Romanticism; and that Brown used his fiction in progressive ways to address issues of women’s rights, slavery, and anti-Semitism.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2422-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. A Polemical Introduction
    (pp. 1-25)

    This book is a contribution to the University of Wales Press’s Gothic Authors: Critical Revisions series, which has among its objectives to offer new perspectives on and to reinvigorate discussion of canonical and neglected Gothic authors. Late eighteenth-to early nineteenth-century American Gothicist Charles Brockden Brown has the odd and seemingly paradoxical distinction of arguably beingbothcanonical – an established figure within the American literary tradition – and, simultaneously, neglected. This contradictory duality in large measure has to do with the critics’ suspicion that although Brown was first in many things, he was not among the best. As Bernard Rosenthal pointed out...

  5. 1 Charles Brockden Brown and the Frontier Gothic
    (pp. 26-52)

    Since this chapter is about getting lost in the American woods, it seems appropriate that I take a somewhat circuitous path to get to Charles Brockden Brown, and begin by briefly discussing three contemporary films that share the conceit of the haunted American wilderness: Tim Burton’sSleepy Hollow(1999), Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’sThe Blair Witch Project(also 1999) and M. Night Shyamalan’sThe Village(2004). Burton’sSleepy Hollowpurports to be a film adaptation of early American author Washington Irving’s classic, ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, first published in 1820 as part of Irving’sThe Sketch-Book of Geoffrey...

  6. 2 Charles Brockden Brown and the Urban Gothic
    (pp. 53-89)

    At the beginning of the last chapter on the Frontier Gothic, I attended briefly to three contemporary American films,Sleepy Hollow,The Blair Witch ProjectandThe Village, each of which illustrates the archetypal significance of the haunted American wilderness to the constitution of American identity. I then traced this theme back to its literary origination in Charles Brockden Brown’s ‘Somnambulism’,Wielandand most of allEdgar Huntly. My argument in that chapter – in keeping with the assertions of Downes, Hamelman, Newman, Seelye and other contemporary critics, as well as those of Brown himself in his ‘To the Public’ at...

  7. 3 Charles Brockden Brown and the Psychological Gothic
    (pp. 90-118)

    Connoisseurs of popular culture will be well versed in the now famous ‘Scooby Doo’ ending. For the uninitiated: at the end of each episode of the popular children’s cartoon featuring a cowardly dog that some how always manages to foil the villain’s insidious plan, seemingly super natural phenomena are revealed to be a combination of intentional deception and coincidence: there are never any actual ghosts, only smoke and mirrors. Connoisseurs of Gothic novels, however, will be very aware thatScooby Doodid not invent this formula and will probably agree that if eighteenth-century Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe were to watch...

  8. 4 Charles Brockden Brown and the Female Gothic
    (pp. 119-146)

    In the preceding three chapters, I have made the case that Charles Brockden Brown should be regarded as an innovator within three subgenres of the Gothic: the Frontier, the Urban and the Psychological. In each case, Brown helped to define and shift the parameters of horror fiction and crafted conventions that still influence these subgenres today. In this chapter, I will present the argument that Brown was influential on a fourth Gothic subgenre – what has come to be called the ‘Female Gothic’. In order to develop this thesis, I will first offer a definition and brief overview of the development...

  9. Conclusion: The Legacy of Charles Brockden Brown’s Four Gothics
    (pp. 147-156)

    My argument in this ‘polemical introduction’ to the work of Charles Brockden Brown has been that he must be considered a central figure in the development of four subgenres of the Gothic: the Frontier Gothic, the Urban Gothic, the Psychological Gothic and the Female Gothic. In Brown’s four Gothic novels,Wieland,Ormond,Arthur MervynandEdgar Huntly– as well as to lesser extents in his dialogue on women’s rights,Alcuin, his sentimental novels, Clara Howard and Jane Talbot and his other writings in cluding his unfinishedMemoirs of Carwin the BiloquistandStephen Calvert– Brown consciously appropriated elements of the...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 157-180)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-198)
  12. Index
    (pp. 199-206)