The introduction lays out the problem of American literature’s terror by reviewing its critical history, defining it against related terms like horror and the sublime, and fitting it within the current discourses of affect theory and American literary history. It addresses the conceptual methodological questions involved in thinking about feeling, and conversely, in the idea that we might feel thinking. By way of this discussion, the introduction situates the book’s argument within recent critical interest in American literary pragmatism and gothic posthumanism. It also provides a map to the book’s structure and previews the argument as it develops from Edwards to Poe to Melville.
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