Brown Bag Stray Threads: How the Factory System Unravelled Terms in Women's Labor in the Early Industrial Era 8 June 2015.Monday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Meghan Wadle, Southern Methodist University

Antebellum New England factories unleashed a representational crisis as they drew farmers' daughters out of the home. Factory women and their contemporaries entered print culture to debate the longstanding sexual associations in women's labor, which industrial work had exposed by questioning a woman's capacity for virtue when she was ungoverned by a patriarchal roof. As they protested the terms of their representation, factory women who had turned labor activists and authors also innovated on two threads of American literary discourse. By portraying the subversive power of sympathy, activist factory women both counter the terms of romantic individualism while also innovating on the sentimental tradition, depicting sympathy as an affective phenomenon capable of immediate action in the world.