Viviane Boileau, Concordia University
I am currently an MA student at Concordia University in Montreal. My present research looks at problems of voice in Charles Brockden Brown's narratives and how they impact his American Gothic. My interests include nineteenth-century American Literature, the Gothic, science-fiction and narratology.
Writing Fever: The Case ofOrmond
Charles Brockden Brown's 1799 novel Ormond; or, The Secret Witness, like many of his writings, is concerned with problems surrounding the acquisition of knowledge, the belief in testimony, and the reliance on the senses. However, in this particular novel, Brown complicates these issues through the motif of disease. The short episode surrounding the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia signals towards Brown's symbolic use of the disease. The novel's plot, characters, imagery and vocabulary perpetuate this symbolism and serve as constant reminders that sickness is detrimental to the body: human, political, social and more importantly, written. Because it can cross the boundary between public and private, disease is not only a significant threat but inevitably impacts knowledge, an impact mirrored in Ormond's narration.