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The Soul of PleasureSentiment and Sensation in Nineteenth-Century American Mass Entertainment$
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David Monod

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702389

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702389.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Soul of Pleasure

David Monod

Cornell University Press

This introductory describes the moral anxiety that prevented many Americans from patronizing popular entertainments in the nineteenth century. The entertainments were regarded so unfavorably that few respectable citizens dared to go out to popular entertainment, and those that did seldom went with regularity. Most people were unwilling, or unable, to imagine containing popular entertainment in its own sphere or to see it as disconnected from their real-life activities, relationships, and morals. In particular, the public seemed convinced that the popular theatre exposed audience members to the possibility of living according to other values. This was the concern that lay behind the assertion, so often made in the early nineteenth century, that the stage was immoral.

Keywords:   moral anxiety, popular theatre, popular entertainment, immoral, audience members

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