Literature and Humanitarian Reform in the Civil War Era

Gregory Eiselein
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/22/1996
ISBN: 978-0-253-11312-2
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... this volume presents a reasonable, fresh, and well-researched reading of several key texts in American studies." —Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas

During the Civil War, a crisis erupted in philanthropy that dramatically changed humanitarian theories and demanded new approaches to humanitarian work. Certain writer-activists began to advocate an "eccentric benevolence"—a type of philanthropy that would undo the distinction between the powerful bestowers of benevolence and the weaker folks who receive it. Among the figures discussed are the anti-philanthropic Henry David Thoreau and the dangerously philanthropic John Brown.

Author Bio

GREGORY EISELEIN is Assistant Professor of English and a faculty member in the Program in Cultural Studies at Kansas State University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. An Introduction to Eccentric Benevolence
2. Dangerous Philanthropy
3. Harriet Jacobs and the Subversion of Style
4. Suffering Beyond Description
5. Whitman and the Humanitarian Possibilities of Lilacs
6. Eccentric Benevolence and its Limits
7. Afterword: AIDS and Unconventional Caring