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John Baker
Marion Leclair

The introduction provides a general background to the notion of the self while focusing on the long eighteenth century, and the way writers of the period perceived and expressed the self, and framed their arguments in the domains of literature and philosophy in particular. In so doing it underlines the importance of the elaboration and expression of the self and its recognisably modern identity. It emphasises the decisive contributions of John Locke and David Hume, of Blaise Pascal and Alexander Pope, to a debate on the self that informed the long eighteenth century, contributions which still provide significant elements of the ongoing debates on the self and individualism today. As an overview of the volume’s chapters and arguments, the introduction gives a brief presentation of each of the contributions, sketching out how they constitute at once a patchwork and a chronological narrative, and examine the self from different perspectives related to gender, philosophy, religion, morality and politics, where the protean nature of the self is expressed and explored in different genres and discourses: sermons, poetry, philosophical texts, novels and diaries.

in Writing and constructing the self in Great Britain in the long eighteenth century

This volume of twelve essays, preceded by an introduction that succinctly frames the problematic and history of the notion of the ‘self’, examines the various ways the ‘self’ was perceived, fashioned and written in the course of the long eighteenth century in Great Britain. It highlights, in particular, the interface between literature and philosophy. The chapters include discussion of philosophers such as Locke, Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Hume, Hutcheson and Smith, churchmen such as Isaac Barrow and John Tillotson, the novelists Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson and Laurence Sterne, the poets Anne Killigrew, Alexander Pope, William Blake and William Wordsworth, the writers and sometime diarists Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, and the radical writer Sampson Perry.

The originality of the studies lies in their focus on the varied ways of seeing and saying the self, and what Locke called personal identity. They foreground the advent of a recognisably modern, individualistic and ‘sustainable’ self, which, still today, remains plural and enigmatic. The book should appeal to a wide public, both undergraduate and graduate students working in Literature and the Humanities, in particular those interested in the Enlightenment period, as well as researchers and the general public interested in questions related to identity and consciousness and their formulation in the past and present.

The volume follows a chronological narrative which surveys the intriguing and protean nature of the ‘self’ from varied perspectives and as expressed in different genres. It assembles contributions from both confirmed and young researchers from Britain, Europe and the United States.

John Baker
Kathleen Lynch
, and
Judy Walsh

This chapter reviews the Equality Authority's (EA) operations in the decade between its establishment in 1999 and the 2008 crisis, summarising its work in assisting complainants, conducting research and communicating with the public. It explains why the Authority was attacked, by examining three questions in more detail. The questions examined are how the Authority's legal work triggered a backlash from powerful sectors of Irish society and how its cases against the state challenged the status of politicians and public officials. The other question examined is how the Authority's plans to conduct inquiries may have threatened other powerful interests. The Equality Acts and the EA's role within them fall within a liberal egalitarian perspective, as they focus on equal opportunity and the toleration of differences. The chapter concludes by arguing that the EA and the Equality Acts are primarily based on liberal egalitarianism rather than equality of condition.

in Defining events