By Dana Luciano
2008 Winner, MLA First publication PrizeCharting the proliferation of sorts of mourning and memorial throughout a century more and more interested by their historic and temporal importance, Arranging Grief bargains an cutting edge new view of the cultured, social, and political implications of emotion. Dana Luciano argues that the cultural plotting of grief offers a particular perception into the nineteenth-century American temporal imaginary, considering the fact that grief either underwrote the social preparations that supported the nation’s average chronologies and backed alternative routes of advancing history.Nineteenth-century appeals to grief, as Luciano demonstrates, subtle modes of "sacred time" throughout either non secular and ostensibly secular frameworks, instantaneously authorizing and unsettling validated schemes of connection to the earlier and the longer term. reading mourning manuals, sermons, memorial tracts, poetry, and fiction through Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Apess, James Fenimore Cooper, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Susan Warner, Harriet E. Wilson, Herman Melville, Frances E. W. Harper, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Luciano illustrates the ways in which grief coupled the affective physique to time. Drawing on formalist, Foucauldian, and psychoanalytic feedback, Arranging Grief indicates how literary engagements with grief placed forth methods of demanding deep-seated cultural assumptions approximately historical past, growth, our bodies, and behaviors.
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Additional info for Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America (Sexual Cultures: New Directions from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies)
The “time to mourn,” in this conﬁguration, is also the time of a return to this originary source, the time to speak the naturalness of feeling. The painful pleasure of bereavement—what mourning manuals referred to as “the luxury of grief”—was valued not just because it indexed the strength of interpersonal ties but, more fundamentally, because it veriﬁed an arrangement of time that underscored the foundational truths of human nature; indeed, as Scales suggests, those who refused to embrace truth, who insisted on suppressing feeling, were not only not admirable but actually unlovable.
This intermingling of the pain of grief with sensory traces evoking the material presence of the lost beloved accounts for the mourner’s desire to dwell within such moments, spots of time outside the ordinary sequence of daily life, as compensation for the ineradicability of loss. Grief appears, here, as a pleasurable pain, as it both measures, in its anguish, the depth of the loss and recalls the bliss of connection. Adams extends this reﬂection on the mixed nature of grief in his meditation on a precious relic of his daughter’s childhood, a guitar that he taught her to play during her illness: We kept [the guitar] in its case in my study; and sometimes, on coming home, and feeling in the mood of it, I wished to handle it, and instead of unlocking the case to see if the instrument were there, I would knock upon it; and straightway what turbulence of harmonies rang from all the strings.
Jacob Bigelow, one of Mount Auburn’s founders, justiﬁed the rural cemetery as best beﬁtted to this type of mortuary pedagogy: The monuments of Mount Auburn mark an earthly sepulchre; but the spot itself, with its abundant and impressive beauties is, as it were, the inscribed Monument of Nature to the neverfading greatness of the supreme Judge of both quick and dead—the invincible Arbiter of our fate, both here and hereafter. Heathen must be that heart which does not worship the Almighty amidst these consecrated frames.