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Before feminist literary criticism emerged in the 1970s, the nineteenth-century United States writer Fanny Fern was regarded by most critics (when considered at all) as a prototype of weepy sentimentalism--a pious, insipid icon of conventional American culture. Feminist reclamations of Fern, by contrast, emphasize her "non-sentimental" qualities, particularly her sharply humorous social criticism. Most feminist scholars find it difficult to reconcile Fern's sardonic social critiques with her effusive celebrations of many conventional values. Attempting to resolve this contradiction, Harris concludes that Fern employed "flowery rhetoric" strategically to disguise her subversive goals beneath apparent conventionality. However, Tompkins proposes an alternative view of sentimentality itself, suggesting that sentimental writing could serve radical, rather than only conservative, ends by swaying readers emotionally, moving them to embrace social change.