Susanna rowson and early romantic pedagogies


This chapter offers a close reading of Christopher Pearse Cranch's novels, locates their composition in the contexts of Cranch's biography and of the long and acrimonious conflict in England and North America over appropriate reading matter for children, and seeks to understand the novels in terms of Romantic education. If imagination understood as the ability to construct worlds at odds with common-sense reality now seemed threatening to Cranch, it would take the other figures, notably editor and writer Horace Scudder, to find ways to direct the supposed force of youthful imagination into socially acceptable channels. The philosophical argument, that the unbridled play of imagination would lead to the triumph of emotion and passion over reason and will, paralled the social argument. The imaginative works linked author and reader in direct relationship, making the intermediation of parents, clergy, and other figures of authority less overt. The benign revolution is replaced by the violent rebellion, a fantasy apocalypse, the nightmare of disorder.

Publication Title

Romantic Education in Nineteenth-Century American Literature: National and Transatlantic Contexts

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