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Panic Fiction, Panic Fiction, 0817318100, 0-8173-1810-0, 978-0-8173-1810-9, 9780817318109, , , Panic Fiction, 0817387196, 0-8173-8719-6, 978-0-8173-8719-8, 9780817387198,

Panic Fiction
Women and Antebellum Economic Crisis

Trade Cloth
2014. 256 pp.
Price:  $49.95 s
E Book
2014. 256 pp.
Price:  $49.95 d

Panic Fiction explores a unique body of antebellum American women’s writing that illuminates women’s relationships to the marketplace and the links between developing ideologies of domesticity and the formation of an American middle class.

Between the mid-1830s and the late 1850s, authors such as Hannah Lee, Catharine Sedgwick, Eliza Follen, Maria McIntosh, and Maria Cummins wrote dozens of novels and stories depicting the effects of financial panic on the home and proposing solutions to economic instability. This unique body of antebellum American women’s writing, which integrated economic discourse with the language and conventions of domestic fiction, is what critic Mary Templin terms “panic fiction.”

In Panic Fiction: Antebellum Women Writers and Economic Crisis, Templin draws in part from the methods of New Historicism and cultural studies, situating these authors and their texts within the historical and cultural contexts of their time. She explores events surrounding the panics of 1837 and 1857, prevalent attitudes toward speculation and failure as seen in newspapers and other contemporaneous texts, women’s relationships to the marketplace, and the connections between domestic ideology and middle-class formation.

Although largely unknown today, the phenomena of “panic fiction” was extremely popular in its time and had an enormous influence on nineteenth-century popular conceptions of speculation, failure, and the need for marketplace reform, providing a distinct counterpoint to the analysis of panic found in newspapers, public speeches, and male-authored literary texts of the time.

Mary Templin is an associate lecturer in the Honors College, University of Toledo.

"Templin carefully delineates issues of race, class, gender, and geography in these women's novels, making important distinctions between northern and southern panic fiction. Templin’s prose is accessible, and her persuasive argument emerges from considerable literary, historical, and economic research."

"Mary Templin's Panic Fiction: Women and Antebellum Economic Crisis analyzes antebellum novels about economic crisis to uncover the ways middle-class white women regarded the financial catastrophes that struck the nation during the early decades of the nineteenth century. In doing so, Templin makes important and interesting contributions to economic history, gender history, and the history of popular culture."
Journal of Southern History

"Together with her striking archive and her clear and compelling claims about its cultural work, Templin’s thorough historical grounding makes Panic Fiction a valuable addition to the study of antebellum economic and domestic literature."

“Templin’s argument that panic—as a phenomenon inherently disruptive to the regular functioning of the market—authorized women authors’ engagement in the predominantly male economic debates of the time is astute and richly suggestive. Templin does a fine job of bringing wide-ranging historical scholarship on antebellum class relations and working-class culture to bear on the cultural representations she examines.”
—Lori Merish, author of Sentimental Materialism: Gender, Commodity Culture, and Nineteenth-Century American Literature

“This is an original and engaging study. Based on extensive historical research and an illuminating interaction with recent scholarship on both women’s fiction and the ‘new economic criticism,’ it will be of use to scholars, in a variety of fields, from literature to women’s studies to American history.”
—David Anthony, author of Paper Money Men: Commerce, Manhood, and the Sensational Public Sphere in Antebellum America

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