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Beyond Understanding

Appeals to the Imagination, Passions, and Will in Mid-Nineteenth-Century American Women's Fiction


Martha L. Henning

To appreciate how and why America's first best-sellers so gripped the American soul, current readers need to recapture the era's cognitive paradigm. In Beyond Understanding, Dr. Henning introduces us to the nineteenth-century mind, influenced, in large part, by eighteenth-century Scottish philosopher, theologian, and rhetorician, George Campbell. Reading «feminine fifties» works in light of Campbell's faculty psychology helps reveal why this fiction so inspired its original readers; further, acknowledging and reevaluating marginalized reading methods supports an expanding literary canon. Finally, revisiting Campbell's «philosophy of rhetoric» encourages current lovers of discourse to experience literature and life holistically - beyond understanding.