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Owning UpPrivacy, Property, and Belonging in U.S. Women's Life Writing, 1840-1890$
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Katherine Adams

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336801

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336801.001.0001

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Tarnished Icons, Shining Lives

Tarnished Icons, Shining Lives

Fuller'S Publication Of Privacy

(p.31) Chapter Two Tarnished Icons, Shining Lives
Owning Up

Katherine Adams (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes writing from the 1840s by protofeminist and transcendentalist Margaret Fuller in order to examine her conceptualization of privacy as a site of utopian democratic unity. Fuller portrays her nation as suffering a crisis of material and spiritual dispossession under its capitalist political economy—a crisis she links both causally and metaphorically to women's oppression, slavery, and Indian removal. Focusing on Fuller's calls for redemption through the “shining examples . . . of private lives,” the chapter traces her deployment of women's life narrative as an instrument of millennial transformation in “Autobiographical Romance” (1840), Summer on the Lakes (1844), and Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845). It argues that Fuller's vision of the “private relations” to be cultivated through such publications displaces the injustices of property relations rather than reforming them, and subordinates racial justice to an ethic of utopian sameness.

Keywords:   privacy, recognition, transcendentalism, democracy, Margaret Fuller, millennialism

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