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Abstracts

Romantic Frictions

Abstracts


September 2011

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Youngquist and Botkin, "Introduction: Black Romanticism: Romantic Circulations"

This Romantic Circles Praxis Volume moves the perspective of critical inquiry into British Romanticism from the Island (England) to the Islands (West Indies), considering the particular significance of the Atlantic—watery vortex of myriad economic and cultural exchanges, roaring multiplicity of agencies, and vast whirlpool of creative powers. Black Romanticism remembers a forgotten ancestry of British culture, recovering the vital agencies of diasporic Africans and creole cultures of the West Indies. It does so by practicing counter-literacy, reading the works of nation, empire, and colony against themselves to liberate the common cultures they occlude. The five essays presented here examine texts by or about Jean Jacque Dessalines, Juan Manzano, Jack Mansong, Mary Prince, and John Gabriel Stedman, following a circuitous route that begins in Africa and travels from Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Suriname, Bermuda, and Antigua to corresponding points in England, America, and the continent. The circulation of radically different adaptations of the “same” material provides new ways to understand the colonial Caribbean.
October 2011

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"Walter Scott and the Financial Crash of 1825: Fiction, Speculation, and the Standard of Value"

Although radicals and economists had been attacking the fiscal “speculation” of the credit economy since the seventeenth century as akin to forgery and theft, many conservative commentators on Britain’s financial affairs embraced it as the source of the heroic and imaginative power of debt and credit. This essay reads Walter Scott’s Letters of Malachi Malagrowther and The Chronicles of the Canongate as “speculative” responses to the financial crisis of 1825. Following a period of intense economic expansion, primarily in Latin America and mostly based on highly speculative development plans, and facing a sudden loss of confidence in the banking sectors, the British government and the Bank of England tested various forms of economic diversification. Rather than assuming total responsibility for the new debt loads, the banks, supported by legislation, converted it into a variety of repayment and deposit schemes in smaller institutions, including, for the first time, bank branches. But in Scotland, such schemes also entailed replacing an autonomous and thriving financial community. In the letters, Scott attempts to revive the idea of “speculation”—which I define as both an act of imagination and an act of seeing—against English models of economic diversification. Chronicles documents the failure of this speculative economy and replaces it with a tenuous if critical mode of socio-economic comparison.
February 2012

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A Bloomfield Chronology

September, 2009

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Teltscher, "Colonial Correspondence: The Letters of George Bogle from Bengal, Bhutan and Tibet, 1770-81"

George Bogle was the first British envoy (and first British traveller) from India to Bhutan and Tibet in 1774-5. His letters home provide an exceptional account of British life in Calcutta of the 1770s and a fascinating record of the first mission to Bhutan and Tibet. He is best known for the narrative of his friendship with the third Panchen Lama of Tibet, apparently a relationship of mutual respect and affection which developed during Bogle's five-month stay. This essay explores the multiple, often incompatible, personae which Bogle adopts in his letters home. Writing to his father and brothers, Bogle represents himself as an ambitious, politically astute careerist; to his sisters, as a charming, self-denigrating dilettante. His letters to his sisters are filled with nostalgic invocations of childhood, but this domestic space must also accommodate unfamiliar cultures. In what guise is the Orient admitted to the home? By asking such questions, by tracing Bogle's various epistolary identities, we may catch the process of textual, social and colonial self-fashioning at work.
November 2000

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Raley, "A Teleology of Letters; or, From a "Common Source" to a Common Language"

Like Sir William Jones, the Orientalist John Borthwick Gilchrist, one-time professor at the College of Fort William and seminary instructor, composed an orthoepigraphical system for the transcription of South Asian languages into the Roman alphabet. Gilchrist's project, though, was inherently instrumental, and it effected a partial shift in philological emphasis away from the decoding of the scholarly and classical languages to the demotic and vernacular; his campaign was to insure colloquial proficiency in Hindustani, generally considered the popular language of the East, so that those bound for India could have the proper foundation with which to converse with the natives, to acquire local knowledge, and to come to know Oriental literature. The connection between common languages and governmental control partly accounts for Gilchrist's extensive valorization of functional rationality, as does the idea that language ultimately cannot awe, mystify, enthrall, or govern if it is not common. Gilchrist, however, did not discount the value of the learned languages; rather he transported this value to the vernacular by articulating a teleological model of philological work that was to progress toward a suturing of the utile and the dulce within a particular 'common' language. English came to be situated in these terms at the intersection of these two paradigms of scholarly activity, at the divide between Jones and Gilchrist, liberal and useful knowledge, and universal and national literacy. In his search for a "remedy" for the Oriental languages and a "new universal grammaclature" to be spoken "by all nations in every age and clime," Gilchrist ultimately directed his efforts toward the introduction of what he called "sterling english" and prophetically calculated the imperial spread of a common, basic, or vernacular, English dialect. Coming at a historical juncture in which the claims for the practical, utilitarian, and scientific uses of language were on the rise, Gilchrist's alignment of scholastic philological work with the vernacular strengthened, by extension, the claims to legitimacy on the part of all vernaculars; and it most particularly paved the way for the legitimation of English. Gilchrist and the author of the coterminous philosophical text Enclytica (1814) contributed strongly to an emergent theory of the vernacular, particularly in their suggestions that vernaculars are tied to industrial and scientific development, that they function as the languages of contemporary record and of history, that they contribute to nation formation, and that the systemic code underlying all languages, the universal grammar, is marked by a profound simplicity.
November 2000

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