Religion, Literary Sentimentalism, and Popular Revolutionary Ideology

Ruth H. Bloch

in Gender and Morality in Anglo-American Culture, 1650-1800

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520234055
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936478 | DOI:
Religion, Literary Sentimentalism, and Popular Revolutionary Ideology

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This chapter presents a general argument about the relationship between Anglo-American popular culture and revolutionary consciousness. It demonstrates important thematic continuities between these cultural forms and the political radicalism that emerged in the 1760s and 1770s. It takes issue with recent historians' tendencies to divide revolutionary ideology into two opposing sets of values: the individualistic, associated with liberalism, and the collectivistic, associated with classical republicanism. Communitarianism and individualism can be interpreted as compatible and antagonistic themes within American Revolutionary ideology, particularly if one looks beyond explicitly political debate to the level of religious and literary popular culture. The religious and familial symbolism within Revolutionary discourse at once helps to explain popular allegiance to the patriot cause and suggests ways that important tendencies within revolutionary popular culture shaped the future development of American democracy.

Keywords: Anglo-American popular culture; American Revolutionary ideology; political radicalism; classical republicanism; liberalism; communitarianism; individualism; American democracy

Chapter.  5879 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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