By Paul Hurh
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Extra resources for American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville
14 Stephen King suggests in his study of the genre that cultural preoccupations—from the Cold War to acne—Â� become manifest in the monsters of horror: invading spacemen for Soviet Sputnik (12), the disfigured face of teenage Frankenstein for the juvenile horror of acne (47–48). Symptomatic horror is different from terror in that it relies 16 INTRODUCTION upon some perceived deviation; one can feel horror by being confronted by a hideous, many-tentacled, and drooling monster, just as one can feel horror by hearing about atrocities committed by a dictator upon his people.
26 Grimstad shows how, on a linguistic and compositional level, Poe’s and Melville’s deployments of experience as experiment coincide with the broader pragmatist function of “wording the world into something shareable and meaningful” (14). Thinking about experience as publicly conditioned rather than an autonomous affective encounter, Grimstad brackets tone to better account for composition as procedural, as a dynamic that flowers out of the tension between general and particular in the act of writing.
We can hear the auditor’s surprise at the sermon’s truncated ending as much as at the content of the sermon; hellfire sermons were nothing new to the colonies, but they always had, to greater or lesser extent, a happy ending—an application, a call for a change of behavior, or even a dire warning. They didn’t merely damn the congregation and leave it wallowing in its damned state. Instead of comforting his audience, what Davenport does instead is to perform, in a kind of inarticulate dance, the experience of inhabiting such a state: “Then he came out of the Pulpit, and stripped off his upper Garments, and got up into the Seats, and leapt up and down sometime, and clapt his Hands, and cried out in those Words, the War goes on, the Fight goes on, the Devil goes down, the Devil goes down; and then betook himself to stamping and screaming most dreadfully” (qtd.