Sentimental Democracy: The Evolution of America's Romantic Self-Image by Andrew BursteinSentimental Democracy: The Evolution of America's Romantic Self-Image by Andrew Burstein

Sentimental Democracy: The Evolution of America's Romantic Self-Image

byAndrew Burstein

Paperback | May 24, 2000

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The provocative interpretation of American political rhetoric

Americans like to use words of sentiment and sympathy, passion and power, to explain their democracy. In a provocative new work, Andrew Burstein examines the metaphorically rich language which Americans developed to express their guiding principle: that the New World would improve upon the Old. In journals, letters, speeches, and books, an impassioned rhetoric of "feeling" set the tone for American patriotism.

Burstein shows how the eighteenth century "culture of sensibility" encouraged optimism about a global society: the new nation would succeed. Americans believed, as much by sublime feeling as by intellectual achievement or political liberty. As they grew more self-confident, this pacific ideal acquired teeth: noble Washington and humane Jefferson yielded to boisterous Jackson, and the language of gentle feeling to the force of Manifest Destiny. Yet Americans never stopped celebrating what they believed was their innate impulse to do good.

Andrew Burstein is the author of The Inner Jefferson: Portrait of a Grieving Optimist. He teaches at the University of Northern Iowa.
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Title:Sentimental Democracy: The Evolution of America's Romantic Self-ImageFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.96 inPublished:May 24, 2000Publisher:Farrar, Straus And GirouxLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0809085364

ISBN - 13:9780809085361

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Reviews

From Our Editors

Americans are passionate about democracy. Noted Jefferson scholar Andrew Burstein explores the metaphorically rich language Americans created two centuries ago to voice an underlying belief and direction: that the New World would be better than the Old. American patriotism became an emotive rhetoric in journals, letters, speeches and books. Sentimental Democracy: The Evolution of America’s Romantic Self-Image reveals how the 18th-century culture of sensibility fed American optimism about a global society. They believed their nation would succeed because of profound feeling as well as political liberty and intellectual achievement.

Editorial Reviews

"Stimulating, well researched, and relevant to today's debates about the nature of the American character and the role of the United Sates in world affairs." -Library Journal"Fully documented and carefully written, Burstein's book puts up a convincing case for his main thesis: the American character has to be forged, then reshaped over time, in a process of individual, regional and national self-scrutiny." -The Roanoke Times