Why do we love biting, social satire, yet hate to practice its call for change? Dowd attempts to answer this question within the modes of narrative itself. Stretching across time and geographical space, the narrative modes of 18th and 19th century sensibility infiltrate even the most satirical of "modern" reform narratives. From Charles Dickens to Tim Dorsey, Reforming the Politics of Sensibility traces a trajectory of politically-minded authors whose texts reflect the shifting conflict between reformative aims and sentimental modes. Suggesting that each author's relationship to the sentimental sets the tone for the sociopolitical work of his novel, Dowd illustrates important relationships between seeming opposites: sensibility, satire, melodrama, and postmodernism. Her book asks us to consider the complicated interaction of these genres in the sociopolitical efficacy of fiction. By examining sentimental modes through Orwell's 1984, Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, and Dorsey's Florida Roadkill, Dowd demonstrates the roll sentimental modes continue to play in the political quietism so dissatisfying to critics of popular fiction.