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Radical Romantics

Prophets, Pirates, and the Space Beyond Nation

Talissa Ford

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Examines dissident conceptions of space in the British Romantic era

Radical Romantics is about utopias and failed utopias, about cities that are palimpsests, and about the unwieldy span of the ocean. From William Blake’s visionary poetry to Lord Byron’s Eastern romances, from prophetic pamphlets to travel narratives, texts of the Romantic era make use of imaginative spaces to reveal the contours and limits of territorial sovereignty. In doing so, they raise fundamental questions about our understanding of both territorial and imagined space. What are the means by which people can conceive of geographical space without resorting to the terms of nationalism? Is it possible to imagine a space beyond territory, as movement itself? How can we articulate the overlap between mapped and lived space?

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Introduction: Romanticism Off the Map
1. It is Not Amiss to Speak of His Beard
2. A Pirate or Anything
3. Coming Up From the Sea
4. Jerusalem is Scattered Abroad
5. From Here to Timbuktu
Conclusion: Land Pirates and Republican Ragamuffins.

About the Author

Talissa Ford is an Assistant Professor of English at Temple University. She has published scholarly articles in Studies in Romanticism and in Romantic Circle Reviews.


Radical Romantics offers an innovative approach to areas at the forefront of critical enquiry into Romantic-era writing. Its bold new stroke is to compare and contrast very different kinds of writing, usually viewed as unrelated, because they all disturb, disconfirm, and undermine the languages of colonialism. One does not expect to find pirate narratives, visionary poems and prophecies in the same study, but Ford’s book succeeds at throwing each into a new light by the unlikely juxtaposition.

- Tim Fulford, De Montfort University

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