America

Pace, "Wordsworth, the Lyrical Ballads, and Literary and Social Reform in Nineteenth-Century America"

The "Honourable Characteristic of Poetry":
Two Hundred Years of Lyrical Ballads

Wordsworth, the Lyrical Ballads, and Literary and
Social Reform in Nineteenth-Century America

Joel Pace, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire


November 1999

Resource (Taxonomy): 

Wordsworth, the Lyrical Ballads, and Literary and Social Reform in Nineteenth Century America

Wordsworth, the Lyrical Ballads, and Literary and Social Reform in Nineteenth Century America

Joel Pace, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Notes

1 On the relationship between British emigration and American literature, see Stephen Fender's Sea Changes (1992).

November 1999

Resource (Taxonomy): 

O'Quinn, "Of Extension and Durability: Romanticism’s Imperial Re-Memberings"

William Hodges’s Travels in India During the Years 1780, 1781, 1782 and 1783 (1793) is a text literally structured by war. Hodges’s travels and his narrative are repeatedly interrupted by armed conflict between the forces of the East India Company and resistant native powers across the subcontinent. The particular conflicts in question did not go well for the British and the humiliating loss at Pollilur not only raised questions regarding Warren Hastings’s bellicosity, but also haunted representations of British rule in India until the final defeat of Tipu Sultan in 1799. In spite of the fact that the Travels appears to be a pro-Hastings document, published in London at the turning point in the impeachment proceedings against the former Governor-General of Bengal, the narrative disjunctions instantiated by these conflicts destabilize Hodges’s explicit argument that British governance in the region is not only benevolent, but also far superior to prior examples of Moslem rule. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how the text’s figural economy–both textual and visual–attempts to ameliorate the narrative disjunctions which everywhere threaten to disclose the Company’s precarious claim to sovereignty. Through a close analysis of Hodges’s figuration of good and bad governance in the region, the argument will isolate precisely how his–and by extension, the Company’s--historical predicament erupts into the text and call in to question the very models of governmentality figured forth in his remarkable rendering of the banyan tree. Michel Foucault, in his essay “Governmentality”, defined “Government as the right disposition of things”. From the period immediately prior to the passing of the Regulating Act to the East India Company Charter Act, the hybridity of the East India Company generated significant controversy regarding the appropriate form and quality of colonial rule. Hodges’s text engages with this problematic by presenting figures of the right disposition of men and things. The most important of these, the banyan tree, is the subject of an extensive textual description and also one of the volumes most accomplished engravings. In the text, the tree offers shade and sustenance to all who come under its canopy and it is metaphorically linked to Hastings’s management of Indian affairs. Its vitality and above all its naturalness accrue to the governmentality of the Company and thus it ostensibly stands as a figure of prosperity, hope and stability in a time of war and economic uncertainty. It also stands in marked contrast to Hodges similarly iconic description of the ruins of Agra and especially of Acbar’s tomb later in the text. As ruins architectural traces of a similarly ruined Mughal empire, these descriptions ostensibly testify to the fundamental inability despotic powers to rule effectively. Akbar’s tomb is especially important in this regard because it is Akbar’s name itself, as rendered on the mausoleum that operates as the ultimate contrast to the banyan tree. In other words, a dead name, an almost Wordsworthian epitaph, figures forth the disappearance and obsolescence of entire period in Indian history and in its place, Hodges offers a living thing. What interests me about this contrast is that in both cases the historical obfuscations depend upon key slippages in the distinction between word and image, between living and dead, between name and metaphor. My essay’s concluding gesture demonstrates how the visual renderings of the banyan tree and of architectural ruins attempt to contain or regulate what amounts to a crisis in figuration. Of particular importance is the way Hodges’s image engages with prior images, most notably in Picart, which link the tree to suspect forms of sexuality. At the heart of Hodges engraving is a resonant act of visual surrogation which figures forth a remarkable fantasy of phallic Company rule well before the East India Company fully consolidated its power in the region. In other words, one can discern within the relationship between textual figuration and the visual strategies of the engravings the kind of “wishful thinking” or self-delusion that C. A. Bayly has identified as a crucial element of British governance prior to and during the imposition of the Permanent Settlement.
September 2011

Resource (Taxonomy): 

Kelley, "Introduction"

In recent decades skirmishes about how to read literature and culture have at times polarized critics, who find themselves identified, or identify themselves, with distinct critical dispositions toward either historicism or toward some version of poststructuralist writing, in particular deconstruction, supposed to be suspicious of historicism for espousing an empiricist, neo-positivist perspective on the past. What emerges from this standoff can seem comical or simply bizarre as one side imagines the other as its constitutive other, and as such productive of readings in which something is missing. Deconstructive and poststructural readers who ground their readings in philosophical argument and rhetorical nuance are at the very least bemused by the focus on detail in new historicist readings or the large gestures of cultural studies readings. In reply historicist and cultural critics find the lacunae in arguments from philosophical points of departure damaging to the lived temporality of writing and culture. Although this dispute animates more than one moment of literary study (it has become more marked in Victorian studies), its most sustained version has concerned Romanticism, understood variously since the 1980s as the disputed subject of new historicism and deconstruction. Whatever else it is, Romanticism arises in a moment of extraordinary and divisive recognition of differences among races, peoples, and political programs. And at least since the 1980s, the era has remained the focus of critical dissent as deconstructive, new historicist and other critical arguments debated whose Romanticism was theirs. This debate has in turn helped to shape public understanding of how we read literature and culture now as an enterprise strangely and contentiously divided between thinking about the work of language or the character of historical difference as though each goal could be separated from the other. This opposition is strangely rigid, easy to caricature and, as importantly, easy to dismiss. What gets lost in this critical antagonism is the shimmer of historical and philosophical friction in Romanticism itself and in compelling Romantic criticism in the last decade. Romantic Frictions emphasizes this important critical turn, which supposes that the pressure of Romantic difference is as much historical and cultural as it is philosophical and theoretical and that it is ongoing in critical discourse. So positioned, these essays address the rub of critical differences as the work at hand as well as the work that Romanticism itself frequently performed. Hearing critical voices rather than taking stands, these essays stage frictions that make Romanticism engaging for modern readers, precisely because this era and its modern critics remind us of the value of difference as the work of thought in time and culture. The essays in Romantic Frictions find in Romanticism what philosophical modernity has often found there: a disposition to recognize oppositions that cannot be squared or resolved precisely because they constitute the ongoing work of culture and writing. Such frictions are embedded in a shifting temporal moment whose inner complexity is similarly textured such that neither history nor philosophy assumes a master (and fictional) disguise. Both are instead crosscut and assembled in ways that sustain an inner friction that invites being read.
September 2011

Resource (Taxonomy): 

Kennedy, "Going Viral: Stedman's Narrative, textual variation, and life in Atlantic Studies"

The current multiplex configuration of Stedman's _Narrative_ emerged in 1988, the result of Richard and Sally Price's new scholarly edition. The Prices' text transcribed Stedman's 1790 manuscript version aiming to restore his original authorial intent and exposing the extent to which the text had been altered by Stedman's first editor, Joseph Johnson. Both versions of the _Narrative_ are troubled by what they cannot contain, whether it be the sexual exploitation made possible by plantation-slavery, or the inter-racial desire that would eventually mark Stedman's _Narrative_ as a singular example of resistance to the exploitations inherent in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.
October 2011

Tags: 

Resource (Taxonomy): 

"Knowledge Against Paper: Forgery, State Violence and Radical Cultural Resistance in the Romantic Period"

This essay firstly examines the strategy of radical education in the early nineteenth-century plebeian public sphere around the issue of paper money, illustrated by William Cobbett in his article series "Paper Against Gold," published in the Political Register during 1810-11. Cobbett’s role as a counter-hegemonic intellectual in the series and the conception of popular knowledge it championed is highlighted, in part through his attempts to expose the complex workings of the wider financial system he described as a "place . . . of a sort of mysterious existence; a sort of Financial Ark; a place not, perhaps, to be touched, or even seen." The second part of the essay demonstrates how this form of critical publicity was transformed in the postwar years into an active project of resistance against the worst abuses of the paper money system, culminating in Cobbett’s "puff out" campaign in the Register to materially undermine Bank of England paper currency and T.J. Wooler’s print protests in The Black Dwarf directly confronting the enforcement of the "bloody code" in the capital forgery trials of late 1818. This postwar print campaign against the paper money system illustrates key aspects of the wider radical intellectual project in the plebeian public sphere, highlighting how the radical press "converted" popular public debate into a new form of cultural currency in the Romantic period, a currency that emblematized a continuing concern for the material welfare of its readers and listeners in the face of a corrupt and bloody political and economic system.
February 2012

Resource (Taxonomy): 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - America