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Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Postcolonial Studies

Suvir Kaul

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'This book convincingly challenges both the extremely short historical memory of most postcolonial work and the all-too-insularly English world still conjured by period specialists. Hogarthian whores and Grub Street hacks, coffee houses and fashionable pastimes, and the burgeoning of print culture all stand revealed as intimately bound to portents of plantation insurgency, agitation for abolition, and the vast fortunes produced by the labouring bodies of the poor, the colonized, and the enslaved. Eighteenth-century studies has never appeared in a more engaged and fascinating light.'

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Contents

Timeline
Introduction: Towards a Postcolonial History of Eighteenth-century English Literature
Postcolonial Studies and Empire today
Nation-formation and empire in the eighteenth century
Territory, trade routes, war and "Great Britain"
Print and Public Culture
Literary Creativity, Literary Criticism, Postcolonial Criticism
Plan of the Book
Chapter 1: Theaters of empire
Davenant, the revival of performance, and the thematics of empire
Aphra Behn, colonial self-making, and the uncertain consolations of romance

Civil tragedy, commercial humanism, and colonial consciousness
Chapter 2: The expanding frontiers of prose
Yariko and Inkle and the staging of polite culture
Crusoe the merchant-adventurer-and Friday
Chapter 3: Imaginative writing, intellectual history, and the horizons of British literary culture
The Spectator, print culture, and the circulation of inter-national value
The languages of national difference: becoming Roderick Random
Luxury, Commercial Society, Enlightenment historiography
Chapter 4: Perspectives from Elsewhere
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and her Turkish Embassy Letters
Johnson's Rasselas: philosophy in an "oriental" key
Phillis Wheatley: literacy, poetry, and slavery
Ukawsaw Gronniosaw: writing in another voice
Conclusion: Gazing into the Future
Literary transport: to India and the South Seas
Bibliography
Further Reading
Index.

About the Author

Suvir Kaul is A. M. Rosenthal Professor and Chair of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Poems of Nation, Anthems of Empire: English Verse in the Long Eighteenth Century (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 2000; Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001), and of Thomas Gray and Literary Authority: Ideology and Poetics in Eighteenth-Century England (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992; Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992). He also writes on South Asia and postcolonial theory and has edited The Partitions of Memory: the afterlife of the division of India (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001; London: C. Hurst, 2001; Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002) and co-edited (with Ania Loomba, Antoinette Burton, Matti Bunzl and Jed Esty), Postcolonial Studies and Beyond (Durham, Duke University Press, 2005).

Reviews

Kaul succeeds well in his project to situate literary production within the context of the international mercantile anxieties of nation and economy in the long eighteenth century... This is a very valuable and erudite work, short in length but rich in scope and content, beneficial for scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates alike, that serves as a good compendium of sources for further reading and research. The focus on the extratextual mercantile and colonialist phenomena can help dissuade readers from celebrating the meanings of literary texts and encourage them, instead, to reflect upon the forces, not readily evident, that produce those meanings.
- Thomas Paul Bonfiglio, University of Richmond, College Literature
This book convincingly challenges both the extremely short historical memory of most postcolonial work and the all too-insularly English world still conjured by period specialists. Hogarthian whores and Grub Street hacks, coffee houses and fashionable pastimes, and the burgeoning of print culture all stand revealed as intimately bound to portents of plantation insurgency, agitation for abolition, and the vast fortunes produced by the labouring bodies of the poor, the colonized, and the enslaved. Eighteenth-century studies has never appeared in a more engaged and fascinating light.
- Professor Donna Landry, University of Kent

[Offers] a commanding synopsis of the field and a provocative challenge for future studies.

- Siraj Ahmed, Lehman College, City University of New York, Modern Philology, Volume 111, Number 4
'Deeply informed and beautifully written.'
- Anita Rupprecht, University of Brighton, Wasafiri

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