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Quiet Testimony
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Quiet Testimony: A Theory of Witnessing from Nineteenth-Century American Literature

Shari Goldberg


Quiet Testimony develops a theory of what it means to bear witness that emerges from the nineteenth century while responding to urgent contemporary questions. It argues that four key figures in American literature—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, and Henry James—resist restricting testimony to voiced pronouncements. Instead, they attend to impressions conveyed by inanimate or otherwise speechless entities, such as a vegetable, a silenced slave, a breeze, and a corpse. In imagining how such entities could be conceived as bearing witness, each writer rethinks, and opens ... More

Keywords: American literature, 19th-century literature, testimony, bearing witness, ethics, non-human, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Henry James

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780823254774
Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014 DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823254774.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Shari Goldberg, author
University of Texas at Dallas