It Goes Without Saying: Sense-Methods in the United States’s Very Long Nineteenth Century


ACLS Fellowship Program




“It Goes Without Saying” focuses on five religious and secular bodily methods as they appear in US literature and culture from the 1780s to 1940, or what this project terms the “very long nineteenth century.” This is a period during which the body came into focus as a site of disciplinary control, culminating in the binarization of hetero- and homosexual. The project argues that the era was characterized by two forms of body politics: 1) the physical cultures of nineteenth-century American nationalism—the military, chattel slavery, and sport; and, 2) the making of sexuality as a meaningful category of analysis. But minor visceral ways of knowing and doing also flourished during the period; this study focus on early American religious dance, playing dead under slavery, postbellum amateur historiography, modern chronic illness, and the post-secular Eucharist, arguing that each counters both the dominant physical cultures of the period and the modern sexualized body.