The Anatomy of Complicity: Rebecca Harding Davis, Peterson’s Magazine, and the Civil War

Sharon M. Harris, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Davis’s thirty-two years of writing fiction for Peterson’s Magazine afforded her the opportunity to explore various popular genres (including mysteries, the gothic, the grotesque, romance, and realism) and to articulate her political views. Stories such as “The Locked Chamber” (January 1862) and “A Story of Life-Insurance” (June 1862) reflect her attitudes about the North and South during the Civil War years. Drawing on her interests in law and medicine, Davis envisioned a decaying South in her fiction for Peterson’s Magazine and formulated a theory that this article terms the “anatomy of complicity” to articulate the South’s responsibility for its own downfall by clinging to the abusive system of slavery and to false ideas about honor among slaveholders.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]