In this delightful look at Americans' penchant for public displays of religious emotion, John Corrigan proposes that American revivalism helped turn emotion into a commodity. Emotion is, after all, our innermost possession. Culture's role is to provide strategies for controlling, conserving and surrendering this possession in ways that serve both our own and society's interests.
Nineteenth-century revivals constructed patterns for the proper transaction of emotion. They taught middle-class Protestants how best to trade this commodity with one another and with God. Corrigan opens his book with a quote from Karl Marx's Capital: "A commodity appears at first sight a very trivial thing, and easily understood. Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties."