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Bonds of CitizenshipLaw and the Labors of Emancipation$
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Hoang Gia Phan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814738474

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814738474.001.0001

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Civic Virtues

Civic Virtues

Narrative Form and the Trial of Character in Early America

Chapter:
(p.63) 2 Civic Virtues
Source:
Bonds of Citizenship
Author(s):

Hoang Gia Phan

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814738474.003.0003

This chapter argues that the early American novel destabilized traditional republican conceptions of virtue and credibility through literary form. The shared epistemological forms and narrative structures of texts such as James Wilson's Lectures on Law and Charles Brockden Brown's Arthur Mervyn show that legal theorists repeatedly rely upon the distinct realm of aesthetic judgment to decide the truth of legal and historical facts. Situating both the novel and the Anglo-American theories of evidence in relation to Enlightenment theories of natural language, the chapter claims that Brown's work is an exemplary of the migration of procedures for ascertaining historical facts from the sphere of law to that of the novel.

Keywords:   social forms, literary form, James Wilson, Charles Brockden Brown, Anglo-American theories, aesthetic judgment, Enlightenment theories

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