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Deliberative Fictions

Deliberative Fictions

(p.152) Six Deliberative Fictions
Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic
Sandra M. Gustafson
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on deliberative fictions which offered the writers of the early republic a textual laboratory where they could sketch the potential and limits of deliberative democracy. It states that the novels of Lydia Maria Child and James Fenimore Cooper are distinguished by their sustained treatments of modern republicanism, which they develop in elaborate scenes focused on the deliberative process. This choice of genre allowed Child and Cooper to experiment with different assumptions about deliberation and explore how the dynamics of power and resistance affect it. Their novels identify some fundamental challenges of the modern republic as they examine the place of dissent, the nature of the rule of law, and the dangers posed by demagogues. In their novels and political writings Cooper and Child explored the potential virtues as well as the existing flaws of deliberative democracy.

Keywords:   fiction, deliberative democracy, Lydia Maria Child, James Fenimore Cooper, republicanism, demagogues, political writings, republic

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