Dr. Faye Halpern
B.A. English and American Language & Literature, Harvard University, 1992
M.A., English, Brown University, 2005
Ph.D., English, Brown University, 2002
Areas of Research
Participation in university strategic initiatives
|Theory & Practice of Teaching & Learning
|How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse
|American Slave Narratives: Then and Now
|Unreliable Narrators and Narrative Ethics
|American Literature from the Late 1800s to the Mid-1900s
|Early American Literature and the American Renaissance
|American Literary Realism
The Afterlife of Sympathy: Reading Realism in the Wake of Uncle Tom’s Cabin makes two related arguments. First, it tells a new story about American literary realism. It challenges the traditional division in American literary history between realism, a postbellum genre celebrated for its bold and accurate depiction of the world, and antebellum sentimentality, a mode of writing associated with women, falsity, and excess emotionalism—“perfumed meretriciousness” as William Dean Howells characterized it. The Afterlife of Sympathy reveals that realists such as Howells, Mark Twain, Henry James, Constance Fenimore Woolson, and Charles Chesnutt used the sentimental techniques that they claimed to deplore and examines why they did so. It uncovers the wide range of uses realist authors found for sentimentality and demonstrates that we cannot fully understand their most famous novels and stories without understanding why they continued to rely on sentimental characters and scenes. Second, in exploding the myth of realism’s rejection of sentimentality, The Afterlife of Sympathy shows the continuing significance of sentimentality not just as a mode of writing but as a mode of reading. It identifies and explores an origin point for the split between readers that we find today: dispassionate academic readers, who are suspicious of empathy, and lay readers, who locate the value of reading in its cultivation of that quality.
- Insight Grant, SSHRC. 2019
- University of Iowa. (2013)
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