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Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections by Corrine Fowler

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Peepal Tree Press | £19.99 | Published 2020 | 324 pages | ISBN 9781845234829

From the Press: “Green Unpleasant Land explores the countryside’s repressed colonial past and demonstrates its importance as a source of ideas about Englishness.

The book presents historical evidence to show that rural England was a place of conflict and global expansion. It also examines four centuries of literary response to explore how race, class and gender have both created and deconstructed England’s pastoral mythologies. In particular, the book argues that Black and British Asian writers have challenged narrow, nostalgic views of rural England but also expressed attachment to English landscapes and the natural world.

The book questions the countryside’s reputation as a retreat from urban life. It interrogates the idea that country houses are models for civilised living or that moorlands are places of freedom. It presents new perspectives on the “English” flora and fauna that feature in literature, parks, allotments and suburban gardens. The book reconsiders a range of rural locations through the lens of British colonial involvement, including East India Company activity and the slavery business. The book connects England’s outward-reaching histories to what was happening in the countryside: the enclosure of common land, the beginnings of industrial mass farming and the reshaping of landownership through imperial profits. In bringing together histories usually separated by the Atlantic, Green Unpleasant Land makes connections, for instance, between the rebellion of enslaved people for their freedom in Jamaica in 1831, and the struggles of English agricultural workers in the Captain Swing uprising of the same year.

But Green Unpleasant Land is more than an academic study – accessibly written as it is – because it contains a section of Corinne Fowler’s own stories and poems written in response to the research she has undertaken and the material objects she has encountered. It is a personal story, too, of her own family relationship to transatlantic enslavement.

Green Unpleasant Land should make uncomfortable reading for anyone who wants to uphold nostalgic views of rural England. The heatedness of the recent media response to such work shows just what is at stake: a selective vision of nation that underplays the impact of four colonial centuries, or a vision that embraces, as Paul Gilroy expresses it, a post-imperial ‘convivial culture’.”

Dreamworlds of Race: Empire and the Utopian Destiny of Anglo-America by Duncan Bell

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Princeton UP | Hardcover | $39.85 | Paperback | $27.95 | Published 2020 | 488 pages | ISBN 9780691194011

“Between the late nineteenth century and the outbreak of the First World War, many prominent thinkers in Britain and the United States elaborated a vision for the unification of the English-speaking world into a single political entity. The basis for this utopian thinking was a shared assumption about the racial and cultural exceptionalism of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. This book by Duncan Bell is the first study of the wide range of figures – prominent scholars, journalists, novelists, politicians, and businessmen – who pushed for closer co-operation and integration between the two transatlantic anglophone powers and even for the eventual creation of an ‘Angloworld’ which would extend to the British settler colonies in North America and the Pacific. Such ideas were given added impetus by geopolitical crises, including the Venezuela boundary disputes of the mid-1890s and the imperial wars in South Africa and the Philippines.

The author takes up the ideas of dozens of thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic, from the celebrated to the obscure, though central to the book is a quartet of noteworthy figures: Andrew Carnegie, W.T. Stead, Cecil J. Rhodes, and H.G. Wells. Campaigning groups were established; transatlantic networks were formed; articles, pamphlets, books, and speeches were written and disseminated – all with the aim of emphasizing unity. Proposals for institutionalizing transatlantic links ranged from the modest to the extraordinarily bold. The former included strengthening defense cooperation, deepening economic connections, and coordinating imperial strategy, while the latter encompassed plans for the creation of novel forms of political community, even a single transatlantic state. And much of the thinking was underpinned by ideas about race and a shared Anglo-Saxon cultural inheritance.

Although the popularity of this vision began to wane in the mid-Edwardian era, versions of it reverberated through the twentieth century, and echo now into the present”

Entry prepared by Ammie E. Harrison.

Reading Transatlantic Girlhood in the Long Nineteenth Century Edited by Robin L. Cadwallader and LuElla D’Amico

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Routledge | Hardcover | $128.00 | Ebook | 39.16 | Published 2020 | 234 pages | ISBN 9780367274962

From the publisher: “This collection is the first of its kind to interrogate both literal and metaphorical transatlantic exchanges of culture and ideas in nineteenth-century girls’ fiction. As such, it initiates conversations about how the motif of travel in literature taught nineteenth-century girl audiences to reexamine their own cultural biases by offering a fresh perspective on literature that is often studied primarily within a national context. Women and children in nineteenth-century America are often described as being tied to the home and the domestic sphere, but this collection challenges this categorization and shows that girls in particular were often expected to go abroad and to learn new cultural frames in order to enter the realm of adulthood; those who could not afford to go abroad literally could do so through the stories that traveled to them from other lands or the stories they read of others’ travels. Via transatlantic exchange, then, authors, readers, and the characters in the texts covered in this collection confront the idea of what constitutes the self. Books examined in this volume include Adeline Trafton’s An American Girl Abroad (1872), Johanna Spyri’s Heidi (1881), and Elizabeth W. Champney’s eleven-book Vassar Girl Series (1883-92), among others.”

Ebook available through the TCU Library. Entry prepared by Ammie E. Harrison.

Andrew Watson: the first Black international footballer

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Entry by Sanjana Chowdhury

Football has been whitewashed as an English game created by white Britons in the 19th century. But one of the major influences on football as we know it was Andrew Watson, a Black footballer who played for Scotland in the 1880s. Watson was born in Georgetown, Demerara, in British Guiana in 1856. His mother, Anna Rose, was a freed Black woman, and his father was a white Scottish solicitor and sugar planter. His family was also related to John Gladstone (father of William Gladstone), one of the largest British slave owners. Mark Al Nasir, Liverpudlian poet and a descendant of Watson, says: “This is a guy who lived the life of privilege. He had a Prime Minister for a cousin and his family owned a bank.” Descended from both enslaved and enslavers, Andrew Watson became the most important figure in 19th-century Scottish football when he moved to Glasgow in 1875.

Watson studied at Glasgow University, and played for the leading Glasgow club, Parkgrove FC. Later, he went on to play for Queen’s Park. He was the captain of the Scottish team that defeated England 6-1 at The Oval in March 1881. He again led his team to victory in the next two matches – 5-1 against Wales in Wrexham, and 5-1 against England at Glasgow. Watson was the pioneer of the Scottish “passing and running” game that was superior to and eventually replaced the English “individual dribbling” game. He was also the club secretary, an administrator, and a financial investor of Queen’s Park, as well as the player who won three Scottish Cups, in 1881, 1882, and 1886. After he retired from football, he became a maritime engineer. Richard McBrearty, curator at the Scottish Football Museum, states that Watson was “a champion of football, not just for his playing prowess but as a black man playing what was basically a white game at that time.” Llew Walker’s 2021 book A Straggling Life explores the life of Andrew Watson, the world’s first Black international footballer.

Sources

https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/58841184
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-57520338

Empire of Neglect: The West Indies in the Wake of British Liberalism by Christopher Taylor

Paperback | $27.95 | Published 2018 | 320 pages | ISBN 9780822371151

From the Press: “Following the publication of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, nineteenth-century liberal economic thinkers insisted that a globally hegemonic Britain would profit only by abandoning the formal empire. British West Indians across the divides of race and class understood that, far from signaling an invitation to nationalist independence, this liberal economic discourse inaugurated a policy of imperial “neglect”—a way of ignoring the ties that obligated Britain to sustain the worlds of the empire’s distant fellow subjects. In Empire of Neglect Christopher Taylor examines this neglect’s cultural and literary ramifications, tracing how nineteenth-century British West Indians reoriented their affective, cultural, and political worlds toward the Americas as a response to the liberalization of the British Empire. Analyzing a wide array of sources, from plantation correspondence, political economy treatises, and novels to newspapers, socialist programs, and memoirs, Taylor shows how the Americas came to serve as a real and figurative site at which abandoned West Indians sought to imagine and invent postliberal forms of political subjecthood.”

The Magnificent Reverend Peter Thomas Stanford, Transatlantic Reformer and Race Man Edited By Barbara McCaskill and Sidonia Serafini, with Paul Walker

Hardcover| $39.95| Published June 15, 2020| 312 pages | ISBN 9780820356556

From the press: “Born into slavery in Hampton County, Virginia, orphaned soon thereafter, and raised for almost two years among Native Americans, the charismatic Rev. Peter Thomas Stanford (c. 1860-May 20, 1909) rose from humble and challenging beginnings to emerge as an inventive and passionate activist and educator who championed social justice. During the post- Reconstruction era and early twentieth century, Stanford traversed the United States, Canada, and England advocating for the rights of African Americans, including access to educational opportunities; attainment of the full rights and privileges of citizenship; protections from racial violence, social stereotyping, and a predatory legal system; and recognition of the artistic contributions that have shaped national culture and earned global renown. His imprint on working-class urban residents, Afro-Canadian settlements, and African American communities survives in the institutions he led and the works that presented his imaginative, literate, ardent, and often comic voice.

With a reflection by Highgate Baptist Church’s former pastor, Rev. Dr. Paul Walker, this collection highlights Stanford’s writings: sermons, lectures, newspaper columns, entertainments, and memoirs. Editors Barbara McCaskill and Sidonia Serafini annotate his life and work throughout the volume, placing him within the context of his peers as a writer and editor. As an American expatriate, Stanford was seminal in redirecting antislavery activism into an international antilynching movement and a global campaign to dismantle slavery and slave trading. This book squarely inserts this influential thinker and activist in the African American literary canon.”

Spring 2021 CFPs of Interest

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MLA 2022 CFP: “Transnational Migration and Empire”
Deadline for submissions: March 15, 2021

A Small Boy and Others: Henry James and the Child
Henry James Society
Deadline for submissions: March 15, 2021

Dickens and Decadence (rescheduled)
Stockholm University
Deadline for submissions: April 30, 2021

Poetry in Transatlantic Translation: Encounters Across Languages
Bangor University, Wales, UK
Deadline for submissions: November 15, 2021

New in DH — Black Activism: A Transatlantic Legacy

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Launching on February 3, 2021, the Black Activism: A Transatlantic Legacy project brings together scholars, students, and community leaders in a digital project that uncovers and examines Black activism through a transatlantic lens.

From Black Activism: A Transatlantic Legacy:

“The project consists of a website and symposium which brings together scholars, students, and community leaders from the US, UK, and Canada to address this question: How can multi-ethnic communities identify solutions to contemporary challenges caused by racial, economic, and educational inequities by learning about the experiences of historical and contemporary activists engaged in transatlantic social justice campaigns? The Spring 2021 Online Symposium features scholars conducting research on southern and African Diasporic activists. The Black Activism website highlights the work of early Black activists as well as leaders of community groups currently involved in social justice issues, who will share their insights about global intersections and local initiatives.

The website and symposia have been inspired by the research of Barbara McCaskill and Sidonia Serafini, with the Rev. Paul Walker, on the former slave, educator, and activist Rev. Peter Thomas Stanford (c. 1860-May 20, 1909). Rev. Stanford was Birmingham’s first black minister and once spearheaded an international anti-lynching campaign during the nineteenth century. A biographical edition of Stanford’s writings, edited by McCaskill, Serafini, and Walker, was recently published by the University of Georgia Press. Co-editor of the scholarly edition, Rev. Paul Walker recently retired from his ministerial position at Highgate Baptist Church in England, formerly Hope Chapel, where Stanford pastored in the 1890s.

In addition to the Spring 2021 Online Symposium, the Black Activism website presents resources for research and teaching that are centered on the social justice, educational, intellectual, cultural, and philanthropic contributions of transatlantic Black activists from the nineteenth century to today.”

Project Directors: Barbara McCaskill (Professor of English), Sidonia Serafini (PhD candidate, English), Kelly P. Dugan (PhD, Language and Literacy Education)

The Forms of Informal Empire: Britain, Latin America, and Nineteenth-Century Literature by Jessie Reeder

Hardcover| $194.95| Paperback | $34.95 | Published June 23, 2020| 288 pages | ISBN 9781421438078

book cover with silhouette of South America over an old mapFrom the press: “Spanish colonization of Latin America came to an end in the early nineteenth century as, one by one, countries from Bolivia to Chile declared their independence. But soon another empire exerted control over the region through markets and trade dealings—Britain. Merchants, developers, and politicians seized on the opportunity to bring the newly independent nations under the sway of British financial power, subjecting them to an informal empire that lasted into the twentieth century.

In The Forms of Informal Empire, Jessie Reeder reveals that this economic imperial control was founded on an audacious conceptual paradox: that Latin America should simultaneously be both free and unfree. As a result, two of the most important narrative tropes of empire—progress and family—grew strained under the contradictory logic of an informal empire. By reading a variety of texts in English and Spanish—including Simón Bolívar’s letters and essays, poetry by Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and novels by Anthony Trollope and Vicente Fidel López—Reeder challenges the conventional wisdom that informal empire was simply an extension of Britain’s vast formal empire. In her compelling formalist account of the structures of imperial thought, informal empire emerges as a divergent, intractable concept throughout the nineteenth-century Atlantic world.

The Forms of Informal Empire goes where previous studies of informal empire and the British nineteenth century have not, offering nuanced and often surprising close readings of British and Latin American texts in their original languages. Reeder’s comparative approach provides a new vision of imperial power and makes a forceful case for expanding the archive of British literary studies.”

Transatlantic Women Travelers, 1688-1843 edited by Misty Krueger

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Hardcover| $120.00| Paperback | $36.95 | Published March 12. 2021| 246 pages | ISBN 9781684482962

From the press: “This important new collection explores representations of late seventeenth- through mid-nineteenth-century transatlantic women travelers across a range of historical and literary works. While at one time transatlantic studies concentrated predominantly on men’s travels, this volume highlights the resilience of women who ventured voluntarily and by force across the Atlantic—some seeking mobility, adventure, knowledge, wealth, and freedom, and others surviving subjugation, capture, and enslavement. The essays gathered here concern themselves with the fictional and the historical, national and geographic location, racial and ethnic identities, and the configuration of the transatlantic world in increasingly taught texts such as The Female American and The Woman of Colour, as well as less familiar material such as Merian’s writing on the insects of Surinam and Falconbridge’s travels to Sierra Leone. Intersectional in its approach, and with an afterword by Eve Tavor Bannet, this essential collection will prove indispensable as it provides fresh new perspectives on transatlantic texts and women’s travel therein across the long eighteenth century.”