Chapter 14. Sentiment and Style

  1. Paul Lauter president
  1. Tara Penry Associate Professor

Published Online: 16 MAR 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444320626.ch14

A Companion to American Literature and Culture

A Companion to American Literature and Culture

How to Cite

Penry, T. (2010) Sentiment and Style, in A Companion to American Literature and Culture (ed P. Lauter), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444320626.ch14

Editor Information

  1. Trinity College (Hartford), UK

Author Information

  1. Boise State University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 16 MAR 2010
  2. Published Print: 26 MAR 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780631208921

Online ISBN: 9781444320626



  • sentiment and style;
  • from temperance tracts to melodramas, deathbed daguerreotypes to tombstone etchings - genres of sentimental discourse reaching well beyond sphere of the literary;
  • Shirley Samuels, “culture of sentiment” - the Utopian promise of human sympathy providing a unifying principle;
  • T.S. Arthur's popular temperance narrative, Ten Nights in a Bar-room, and What I Saw There (1854) - consumption of alcohol leading to the ruin of the helpless;
  • Frances Osgood's “The Child Playing with a Watch” demonstrating “transparency” in language, imagery;
  • California ballad, “The Prisoner's Address to His Mother,” conventionally sentimental in its tetrameter form and theme of homesick mother-love;
  • direct address in poetry - less likely to create textual redundancy than in prose;
  • sentimental texts, negotiating multiple discourses of the body, attention to physical vulnerability;
  • Emily Dickinson, just one of the canonical writers - understanding sentimental techniques;
  • Hawthorne's domestic tour of the old Manse and Poe's sensational narration of the last days of the Usher house - finding some kinship with the sentimental mode


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