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Subversion and SympathyGender, Law, and the British Novel$
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Martha C. Nussbaum and Alison L. LaCroix

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812042

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812042.001.0001

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The Lawyer's Library in the Early American Republic

The Lawyer's Library in the Early American Republic

(p.250) (p.251) 12 The Lawyer's Library in the Early American Republic
Subversion and Sympathy

Alison L. LaCroix

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the role that fiction played in the early republican project of building American nationhood. Many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American statesmen and jurists—including such prominent thinkers as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and Joseph Story—were avid readers of fiction. The vast majority of the novels they read were written by English authors; moreover, many of those authors were women. For founding-era thinkers such as Adams and Jefferson, novel reading provided a way for Americans to participate in transatlantic culture and to hone a republican moral sensibility. For the early-nineteenth-century jurists Marshall and Story, fiction offered an opportunity to engage with emotions such as sympathy and to participate in a public sphere that brought men and women together, as both authors and readers, in a conversation that connected politics, law, and literary culture. These producers of legal theory were also consumers of fiction, gentlemen of letters who immersed themselves in female novelists' work not as a means of escape but because those novels offered insights into what they regarded as crucial political questions of individual sentiment and national character.

Keywords:   fiction, nation-building, American statesmen, jurists, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Joseph Story

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