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  • Series: Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies x
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This book seeks to challenge the notion of the supremacy of the brain as the key organ of the Enlightenment. It is done by focusing on the workings of the bowels and viscera that so obsessed writers and thinkers during the long eighteenth-century. These inner organs and the digestive process acted as counterpoints to politeness and other modes of refined sociability, drawing attention to the deeper workings of the self. The book complicates the idea that discourses and representations of digestion and bowels are confined to so-called consumption culture of the long eighteenth century, in which dysfunctional bowels are categorised as a symptom of excess. It offers an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective on entrails and digestion by addressing urban history, visual studies, literature, medical history, religious history, and material culture in England, France, and Germany. The book explores the metaphorical and symbolic connections between the entrails of the body and the bowels of the city or the labyrinthine tunnels of the mine. It then illustrates the materiality of digestion by focusing on its by-products and their satirical or epistemological manifestations. The book expounds further on the burlesque motif of the innards as it is used to subvert areas of more serious knowledge, from medical treatises to epic literature or visual representation. Finally, it focuses on drawings, engravings and caricatures which used the bowels, viscera and entrails to articulate political protest, Revolutionary tensions and subversion through scatological aesthetics, or to expose those invisible organs.

Articulating and disseminating radicalism in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain

This book is a collection of essays that study the diffusion of radical ideas in Britain from the period of the English Revolution in the mid-seventeenth century to the Romantic Revolution in the early nineteenth century. It explores the modes of articulation and dissemination of radical ideas in the period by focusing on actors (“radical voices”) and a variety of written texts and cultural practices (“radical ways”), ranging from fiction, correspondence, pamphlets and newspapers to petitions presented to Parliament and toasts raised in public. It analyses the way these media interact with their political, religious, social and literary context. It adopts an interdisciplinary perspective and uses case studies as insights into the global picture of radical ideas.

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.

Slavery in narratives of the early French Atlantic

Based on original research into little-examined printed and archival sources, this book explores the fundamental ideas behind early French thinking about Atlantic slavery by asking three central questions. What, in theoretical and social terms, did the condition of a slave mean? What was unique about using the human body in Caribbean labour, and what were the limits to this use? What can the strategic approaches described in interactions with slaves tell us about early slave society? Arguing that the social and cultural context of the Caribbean colonies from c. 1620-1750 was marked by considerable instability, this book explores the transformations in the theorisation and practice of slavery. Authoritative discourses were confronted with new cultures and environments, and the servitude thought to bring Africans to salvation was accompanied by continuing moral uncertainties. Slavery gave the most fundamental forms of ownership from labour up to time itself, but slaves were a troubling presence. Colonists were wary of what slaves knew and even hid from them, and were aware that the strategies used to control slaves were imperfect, and could even determine the behaviour of their masters. Commentators were conscious of the fragility of colonial society, with its social and ecological frontiers, its renegade slaves, and its population born to free fathers and slave mothers. Slavery, this book argues, was fundamentally, anti-social. With wide use of eye-witness accounts of slavery, this book will be of interest to specialists, and more general readers, interested in the history and literature of the early Atlantic and Caribbean.

From Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry to British Romantic art

The challenge of the sublime argues that the unprecedented visual inventiveness of the Romantic period in Britain could be seen as a response to theories of the sublime, more specifically to Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). While it is widely accepted that the Enquiry contributed to shaping the thematics of terror that became fashionable in British art from the 1770s, this book contends that its influence was of even greater consequence, paradoxically because of Burke’s conviction that the visual arts were incapable of conveying the sublime. His argument that the sublime was beyond the reach of painting, because of the mimetic nature of visual representation, directly or indirectly incited visual artists to explore not just new themes, but also new compositional strategies and even new or undeveloped pictorial and graphic media, such as the panorama, book illustrations and capricci. More significantly, it began to call into question mimetic representational models, causing artists to reflect about the presentation of the unpresentable and the inadequacy of their endeavours, and thus drawing attention to the process of artistic production itself, rather than the finished artwork. By revisiting the links between eighteenth-century aesthetic theory and visual practices, The challenge of the sublime establishes new interdisciplinary connections which address researchers in the fields of art history, cultural studies and aesthetics.