Deliberative Fictions

Sandra M. Gustafson

in Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780226311296
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226311302 | DOI:
Deliberative Fictions

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This chapter focuses on deliberative fictions which offered the writers of the early republic a textual laboratory where they could sketch the potential and limits of deliberative democracy. It states that the novels of Lydia Maria Child and James Fenimore Cooper are distinguished by their sustained treatments of modern republicanism, which they develop in elaborate scenes focused on the deliberative process. This choice of genre allowed Child and Cooper to experiment with different assumptions about deliberation and explore how the dynamics of power and resistance affect it. Their novels identify some fundamental challenges of the modern republic as they examine the place of dissent, the nature of the rule of law, and the dangers posed by demagogues. In their novels and political writings Cooper and Child explored the potential virtues as well as the existing flaws of deliberative democracy.

Keywords: fiction; deliberative democracy; Lydia Maria Child; James Fenimore Cooper; republicanism; demagogues; political writings; republic

Chapter.  12595 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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