American Dolorologies

Pain, Sentimentalism, Biopolitics

By Simon Strick

Subjects: Cultural Studies, American Studies, American Culture, American History, African American Studies
Series: SUNY Press Open Access
Paperback : 9781438450223, 240 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438450216, 240 pages, April 2014

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. What Is Dolorology?
2. Sublime Pain and the Subject of Sentimentalism
3. Anesthesia, Birthpain, and Civilization
4. Picturing Racial Pain
5. Late Modern Pain
Works Cited

Offers a critical history of the role of pain, suffering, and compassion in democratic culture.


American Dolorologies presents a theoretically sophisticated intervention into contemporary equations of subjectivity with trauma. Simon Strick argues against a universalism of pain and instead foregrounds the intimate relations of bodily affect with racial and gender politics. In concise and original readings of medical debates, abolitionist photography, Enlightenment philosophy, and contemporary representations of torture, Strick shows the crucial function that evocations of "bodies in pain" serve in the politicization of differences. This book provides a historical contextualization of contemporary ideas of suffering, sympathy, and compassion, thus establishing an embodied genealogy of the pain that is at the heart of American democratic sentiment.

This book is freely available in an open access edition thanks to Knowledge Unlatched—an initiative that provides libraries and institutions with a centralized platform to support OA collections and from leading publishing houses and OA initiatives. Learn more at the Knowledge Unlatched website at: https://www. knowledgeunlatched. org/, and access the book online at the SUNY Open Access Repository at http://hdl. handle. net/20. 500. 12648/1705.

Simon Strick is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin in Germany.