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“Made to Feel Wretched”: Royall Tyler and the Trouble with Global Sympathy

“Made to Feel Wretched”: Royall Tyler and the Trouble with Global Sympathy sarah sillin Gettysburg College "Made to Feel Wretched" Royall Tyler and the Trouble with Global Sympathy I pity you too, replied I, the tears standing in my eyes. --The Algerine Captive At a key moment in the middle of The Algerine Captive (1797), Royall Tyler sends his American narrator, Updike Underhill, to Africa aboard The Sympathy. The slave ship's allegorical name is just one of numerous signs that the novel is concerned with sentiment. Beyond signaling this attention to feeling, The Sympathy invites us to recognize that sentiment carries Underhill into a series of fraught cross-cultural encounters. Tyler conveys the influence of these encounters through depictions of Underhill's affect, including recurring scenes of sympathetic crying, such as the one quoted in the epigraph (126). These scenes suggest that the protagonist cannot resist expressing sympathy for foreign peoples, even as his tears signal the pain and vulnerability that compassion creates. For instance, when Underhill comes to pity enslaved Africans aboard The Sympathy, his sentiment simultaneously attests to his power as an American and destabilizes it through his identification with slaves. Attending to such depictions of affect, this essay builds on prior arguments that sentimental literature of the 1790s expresses http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Early American Literature University of North Carolina Press

“Made to Feel Wretched”: Royall Tyler and the Trouble with Global Sympathy

Early American Literature , Volume 51 (1) – Mar 16, 2016

“Made to Feel Wretched”: Royall Tyler and the Trouble with Global Sympathy


sarah sillin Gettysburg College "Made to Feel Wretched" Royall Tyler and the Trouble with Global Sympathy I pity you too, replied I, the tears standing in my eyes. --The Algerine Captive At a key moment in the middle of The Algerine Captive (1797), Royall Tyler sends his American narrator, Updike Underhill, to Africa aboard The Sympathy. The slave ship's allegorical name is just one of numerous signs that the novel is concerned with sentiment. Beyond signaling this attention to feeling, The Sympathy invites us to recognize that sentiment carries Underhill into a series of fraught cross-cultural encounters. Tyler conveys the influence of these encounters through depictions of Underhill's affect, including recurring scenes of sympathetic crying, such as the one quoted in the epigraph (126). These scenes suggest that the protagonist cannot resist expressing sympathy for foreign peoples, even as his tears signal the pain and vulnerability that compassion creates. For instance, when Underhill comes to pity enslaved Africans aboard The Sympathy, his sentiment simultaneously attests to his power as an American and destabilizes it through his identification with slaves. Attending to such depictions of affect, this essay builds on prior arguments that sentimental literature of the 1790s expresses anxiety about the tenuous cohesion of the United States to tease out Tyler's concern with how feeling influences international relations and thereby shapes national identity.1 I contend that his novel illuminates the vital role of foreign sympathy--meaning both Americans' feelings for those outside their country and the compassion they elicit from foreign peoples--in early American literature. Through his depictions of cross-cultural bonds that appear both appealing and troubling, Tyler explores a question central to his work: could Americans create a stable national identity? This concern, evidenced in his earlier play The Contrast (1787),...
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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1534-147X
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Abstract

sarah sillin Gettysburg College "Made to Feel Wretched" Royall Tyler and the Trouble with Global Sympathy I pity you too, replied I, the tears standing in my eyes. --The Algerine Captive At a key moment in the middle of The Algerine Captive (1797), Royall Tyler sends his American narrator, Updike Underhill, to Africa aboard The Sympathy. The slave ship's allegorical name is just one of numerous signs that the novel is concerned with sentiment. Beyond signaling this attention to feeling, The Sympathy invites us to recognize that sentiment carries Underhill into a series of fraught cross-cultural encounters. Tyler conveys the influence of these encounters through depictions of Underhill's affect, including recurring scenes of sympathetic crying, such as the one quoted in the epigraph (126). These scenes suggest that the protagonist cannot resist expressing sympathy for foreign peoples, even as his tears signal the pain and vulnerability that compassion creates. For instance, when Underhill comes to pity enslaved Africans aboard The Sympathy, his sentiment simultaneously attests to his power as an American and destabilizes it through his identification with slaves. Attending to such depictions of affect, this essay builds on prior arguments that sentimental literature of the 1790s expresses

Journal

Early American LiteratureUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Mar 16, 2016

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