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Democracy's SpectacleSovereignty and Public Life in Antebellum American Writing$
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Jennifer Greiman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823230990

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823230990.001.0001

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/The Spectacle of Reform: Theater and Prison in Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance

/The Spectacle of Reform: Theater and Prison in Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance

(p.157) 4 /The Spectacle of Reform: Theater and Prison in Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance
Democracy's Spectacle

Jennifer Greiman

Fordham University Press

Chattel slavery provided a model of lawful violence, against which other forms of exceptional penalty — capital punishment, solitary confinement — operated in the United States in the early decades of the nineteenth century. As the penal system learned from slavery, so reform movements in general began to partake of the rhetoric and practices of penitentiary reform, particularly insofar as sentiment and sympathy produced a kind of lingua franca for reform, shaping debates about technologies of punishment along with those on abolition, temperance, public education, and any number of reformist efforts. The condition staged in The Blithedale Romance is a crisis of empowerment in a society organized as both democratic and sovereign. The mimetic relations instituted at Blithedale involve them in enactments of sovereignty that produce what Tocqueville calls “a stranger among us.”

Keywords:   chattel slavery, punishment, violence, penitentiary reform, penal system, Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, sovereignty

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