Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Emergent WorldsAlternative States in Nineteenth-Century American Culture$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Edward Sugden

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479899692

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479899692.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 22 August 2019

Threshold States in the Immigrant Atlantic, 1789–1857

Threshold States in the Immigrant Atlantic, 1789–1857

Chapter:
(p.145) 3 Threshold States in the Immigrant Atlantic, 1789–1857
Source:
Emergent Worlds
Author(s):

Edward Sugden

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479899692.003.0004

This chapter places the US Americas in the zone after the Atlantic revolutions of the era of world crisis but before the realization of a true democracy. In positioning them as such, it argues that in the first half of the nineteenth century the US Americas were neither an old nor a new world but some intermixture of the two. The figure of the radical immigrant emblematized this threshold state. These immigrants found the US Americas to be a zone that was on the verge of transformation into a fully realized democratic social polity but not quite there yet. As such, they created a formulation of citizenship that allegorized this midstate—“living death”—that reflected their sense of being between a subject and national, democratic citizen. It was the job of a German American genre—the “immigrant gothic”—involving canonical fiction like Herman Melville’s Pierre, German-language city mysteries, and reactionary nativist fantasias, to imagine what the redeemed social world desired by immigrant radicals might look like. Although these fictions found it comparatively easy to imagine the apocalypse, a completely redeemed democracy proved elusive. Instead, they came to dwell on the limited capacity of fiction to bring about radical historical transformation.

Keywords:   Atlantic, new world, immigration, nativism, threshold state, immigrant gothic, Pierre, city mysteries, democracy

NYU Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.