Open Access (free)

The boundaries of “democratic inclusion”

Some questions for Rainer Bauböck

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Joseph H. Carens

In this chapter, the author describes Rainer Bauböck's virtues and limitations of three different principles of democratic inclusion. The principles include all affected interests (AAI), all subject to coercion (ASC), and all citizenship stakeholders (ACS). Bauböck argues that the three principles complement one another, with each providing legitimation for a different set of democratic institutions and practices. He has many illuminating things to say about these three principles, including the ways in which they are derived from different but compatible conceptions of democracy. Bauböck also explores fundamental questions about what a just global political order would require from a democratic perspective. The primary purpose of democracy is to provide legitimacy to coercive political rule through popular self-government. Lots of people would argue that one can be committed to equality of rights and democratic inclusion without embracing the view of the legal rights of irregular migrants.

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Nadia Valman

Margaret Harkness’s London is a city of mobility, both local and global. In her fiction, she utilises a familiar trope in late nineteenth-century urban writing, the figure of the peripatetic protagonist, in order to produce a complex urban panorama. This chapter considers perspectives on the city in Out of Work and In Darkest London from the viewpoints of two kinds of urban walkers: the slum saviour and the unemployed man. It explores the formal conventions wrought by this exploration of viewpoints, most notably, a shift from progressive to episodic narrative development.

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The vicissitudes of victory

Margaret Harkness, George Eastmont, Wanderer (1905), and the 1889 Dockworkers’ Strike

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David Glover

George Eastmont: Wanderer sealed Margaret Harkness’s disengagement from the socialist politics with which she had been actively involved since the 1880s. Its broad canvas also marked another key departure: the turn from late nineteenth-century slum fiction to the reinvigorated condition of England novel that characterised the Edwardian era. Unusually for Harkness, who wrote her books extremely quickly, George Eastmont: Wanderer underwent a long period of gestation. First mooted in the months following the 1889 Dockworkers’ Strike, the novel’s pivotal and deeply traumatic event, Harkness’s major work did not appear until some fifteen years later. This chapter attempts to decipher the painful history of this delay, situating it against the background of the author’s difficult reappraisal of her own political past and the critical interventions through which she distanced herself from the labour movement and the strike’s most significant achievement, the creation of the new unionism.

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Through the mill

Margaret Harkness on conjectural history and utilitarian philosophy

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Lisa C. Robertson

This chapter evaluates the writing Harkness produced during her time living in the countries that are now India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Placing Harkness’s work in a nineteenth-century tradition of British historiographical writing about India that begins with James Mill’s History of British India (1817), the chapter argues that her work during this period consciously eschews conventional historical methodology and offers an important counter-narrative to colonial history. It suggests that in her attention to the ways that social movements and political institutions shape people’s daily lives, which is set within a broad foundation of personal knowledge, Harkness’s writing engages more ardently with the conventions of cultural history than it does with those of travel writing.

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‘The problem of leisure/what to do for pleasure’

Women and leisure time in A City Girl (1887) and In Darkest London (1891)

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Eliza Cubitt

This chapter places the leisure pursuits of female characters in Harkness’s fiction in a broader context of gendered cultural anxieties about working-class leisure activities in the late nineteenth century. Focusing on two of Harkness’s novels, A City Girl and In Darkest London, it argues that, for working women in Harkness’s fiction, leisure may be difficult to access and often becomes another form of work. Comparing Harkness’s characters to women in other contemporary texts such as Liza of Lambeth, it shows how leisure pursuits often reflect and reproduce social dangers and structures of oppression for unmarried working-class women.

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Ruth Livesey

This chapter explores Harkness’s first novel in the context of socialist fiction and the future of the modern novel in the 1880s. A City Girl pivots on one of the staple formulae of earlier nineteenth-century domestic melodrama and its radical political possibilities: a cross-class romantic relationship in which a working-class girl is seduced and abandoned by a gentleman. Unpicking how this novel reworks the inherited forms of radical melodrama helps to shed new light on Friedrich Engels’s famous critique of the work’s relation to realism and the status of literary naturalism in 1880s Britain. The Princess Casamassima – Henry James’s self-consciously experimental foray into naturalism and the political activism of 1880s London – serves as a counterpoint to illustrate the pressure of representation in the modernity of late Victorian mass culture. The chapter ends by returning to Katharine Buildings, Whitechapel, and Harkness’s time spent there researching A City Girl. Drawing on the correspondence and record books of Ella Pycroft, the resident lady rent collector, and Harkness’s cousin Beatrice Potter Webb, this chapter presents a counter-narrative that suggests how the residents themselves tried to write back their own life stories against an interpretative community of social activists, philanthropists, novelists, and political agents.

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Socialism, suffering, and religious mystery

Margaret Harkness and Olive Schreiner

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Angharad Eyre

In 1880s London, Margaret Harkness and Olive Schreiner were both engaged in the socialist movement. An admirer of Schreiner, Harkness dedicated a socialist allegory to her in the late 1880s. However, in In Darkest London, Harkness uses allegorical forms less as propaganda tools and more, as Schreiner did, to evoke a sense of religious mystery. Mysterious, allegorical elements create a liminal space within Harkness’s otherwise realist novel, in which can exist the hope of a better future. This chapter sheds light on Harkness’s work through tracing her participation in the religious socialist aesthetic developed by Olive Schreiner. In situating Harkness in the context of 1880s and 1890s socialism and theology, the chapter argues that Harkness’s work was part of a literary discourse that contributed to the development of early twentieth- century Christianity and social work.

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Helena Goodwyn

This chapter examines how Harkness and her contemporary W. T. Stead navigated the position of journalists with an activist agenda in a transatlantic market for socially engaged publications. It explores the extent to which both Harkness and Stead made use of the ‘rhetoric of progressive Protestantism’ across the generic categories of their writing: realist fiction, activist journalism, and critical travel writing. In examining the ‘clash between socialist and evangelical rhetoric’ in the context of emerging ‘modern marketing methods’, the chapter exposes the problems inherent in labels of ideological inconsistency as applied on gendered terms.

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Margaret Harkness, novelist

Social semantics and experiments in fiction

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Lynne Hapgood

This chapter is based on Harkness’s three London novels to explore how they provided a space in which she was able to experiment with a new style of literary realism designed to reflect both its historical moment and an evolving linguistic and political discourse. It argues that, in a period of social change, Harkness’s task in writing novels about contemporary social conditions required her to employ the shared language and conventions of the present but, crucially, to listen and hear the as yet unarticulated but evolving meanings of the future. It explores the ways in which Harkness’s writing participates in and contributes to emerging forms of experimental writing that seek to relay the experience of urban modernity.

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Margaret Harkness

Writing social engagement 1880–1921

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Edited by: Flore Janssen and Lisa C. Robertson

This volume is the first to bring together research on the life and work of the author, activist, and traveller Margaret Harkness, who wrote under the pseudonym ‘John Law’. The collection contextualises Harkness’s political project of observing and recording the lives and priorities of the working classes and urban poor alongside the broader efforts of philanthropists, political campaigners, journalists, and novelists who sought to bring the plight of marginalised communities to light at the end of the nineteenth century. It argues for a recognition of Harkness’s importance in providing testimony to the social and political crises that led to the emergence of British socialism and labour politics during this period. This collection includes considerations of Harkness’s work in London’s East End at the end of the nineteenth century, but moves into the twentieth century and beyond Britain’s borders to examine the significance of her global travel for the purpose of investigating international political trends. This collection gives substance to women’s social engagement and political involvement in a period prior to their formal enfranchisement, and offers insight into the ways this effected shifts in literary style and subject. In offering a detailed picture of Harkness’s own life and illuminating the lives and work of her contemporaries, this volume enriches critical understanding of the complex and dynamic world of the long nineteenth century.