The Sentimental Mode
February 21, 2014
|Essays in Literature, Film and Television
|Jennifer A. Williamson, Jennifer Larson, and Ashley Reed
|This collection of essays examines how authors of the 20th and 21st centuries continue the use of sentimental forms and tropes of 19th-century literature. Current literary and cultural critical consensus seems to maintain that Americans engaged in a turn-of-the-century refutation of the sentimental mode; an analysis of 20th and 21st century narratives, however, reveals an ongoing use of sentimental expression that draws upon its ability to instruct and influence readers through their emotions. While these later narratives employ aspects of the sentimental mode, many of them also engage in a critique of the failures of the sentimental, deconstructing 19th century perspectives on race, class, and gender and the ways they are promoted by sentimental ideals.