David S. Reynolds, “Deformance, Performativity, Posthumanism: The Subversive Style and Radical Politics of George Lippard’s The Quaker City” (pp. 36–64)
The most interesting American example of the genre known as city-mysteries fiction, George Lippard’s The Quaker City (1844–45), while rich in characters, stymies the novelistic stability conventionally provided by the struggles of heroes against villains in the mystery genre. Lippard’s style thus gets foregrounded as the locus of morality and politics, displaying an acerbic, presurrealistic edge. The current essay surveys linguistic and generic deformations (alinear narrative, irony and parody, bizarre tropes, performativity, and periperformativity) and biological and material deformations (posthuman images, including animals, objects, sonic effects, and vibrant matter) in The Quaker City to suggest how Lippard stylistically reinforces his goal of satirizing literary and social conventions and of exposing what he regards as hypocrisy and corruption on the part of America’s ruling class.
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