Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

9/1/2002 - 7/31/2003

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Speaking Democracy: Civic Performance in the Antebellum United States

FAIN: FA-37312-02

Sandra M. Gustafson
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)

No project description available

Media Coverage

Author(s): A. T. Hale, University of Puget Sound
Publication: Choice Reviews Online
Date: 11/1/2011
Abstract: This timely book traces and attempts thereby to resuscitate the centrality of deliberative dynamics to American political and cultural life. Gustafson (English, Univ. of Notre Dame) establishes first that American republicanism relied on deliberation--as derived from classical and religious models--as antidote and complement to the compulsions of rhetorical suasion. Then, grounding her project in the republican oratory of Daniel Webster and his contemporaries, Gustafson assembles a "literary version of a deliberative poll" of antebellum authors, from Cooper and Child to Apess and Walker, on the possibilities and limits of deliberative processes; these figures "diagnose[d]" the antebellum deliberative crisis occasioned by slavery and sought to address the nation's travails through a variety of politicized aesthetics. The great strengths of this book are the comprehensiveness and nuance of Gustafson's analysis and the relevance of her project to a nation poised, then as now, on the brink

Associated Products

Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic (Book)
Title: Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic
Author: Sandra M. Gustafson
Abstract: Deliberation, in recent years, has emerged as a form of civic engagement worth reclaiming. In this persuasive book, Sandra M. Gustafson combines historical literary analysis and political theory in order to demonstrate that current democratic practices of deliberation are rooted in the civic rhetoric that flourished in the early American republic. Though the U.S. Constitution made deliberation central to republican self-governance, the ethical emphasis on group deliberation often conflicted with the rhetorical focus on persuasive speech. From Alexis de Tocqueville’s ideas about the deliberative basis of American democracy through the works of Walt Whitman, John Dewey, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., Gustafson shows how writers and speakers have made the aesthetic and political possibilities of deliberation central to their autobiographies, manifestos, novels, and orations. Examining seven key writers from the early American republic—including James Fenimore Cooper, David Crockett, and Daniel Webster—whose works of deliberative imagination explored the intersections of style and democratic substance, Gustafson offers a mode of historical and textual analysis that displays the wide range of resources imaginative language can contribute to political life.
Year: 2011
Primary URL:
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780226311296

I led a seminar on Imagining Deliberative Democracy at the Kettering Foundation. (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: I led a seminar on Imagining Deliberative Democracy at the Kettering Foundation.
Abstract: The Kettering Foundation holds monthly gatherings of scholars, journalists, and researchers at their campus in Dayton. I was invited to present excerpts from Imagining Deliberative Democracy and related work. Approximately fifty people were present.
Author: Sandra M. Gustafson
Date: 5/17/2017
Location: Dayton, Ohio