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108 Articles

Fredrick Douglass in Britain and Ireland, 1845-1895 edited by Edited by Hannah-Rose Murray and John R. McKivigan

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Edinburgh University Press | Paperback $39.78 | Published 2021 | 414 pages | ISBN 9781474460415

“The first and only anthology dedicated to Douglass’s three journeys to Britain, covering oratory, print and visual culture. This critical edition documents Frederick Douglass’s relationship with Britain through unexplored oratory and print culture. With an unprecedented and comprehensive 60,000-word introduction that places the speeches, letters, poetry and images printed here into context, the sources provide extraordinary insight into the myriad performative techniques Douglass used to win support for the causes of emancipation and human rights.”

Entry prepared by Ammie E. Harrison.

American Snobs: Transatlantic Novelists, Liberal Culture, and the Genteel Tradition by Emily Coit

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Edinburgh University Press | Paperback $29.95 | Published 2021 | 328 pages | ISBN 9781474475402

From the Press “Reassesses American elitisms of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Brings together the insights of recent Victorianist and Americanist scholarship in order to show how Adams, James, and Wharton engage with liberal thinking about whiteness, democracy, and citizenship. Locates these authors in disciplinary history, revealing that their critical responses to Bostonian liberalism feed into the ideas that structure the study of US literary history during the twentieth century. Offers a rich portrait of the Harvard intellectual milieu to which these authors respond, bringing fresh attention to their connections with thinkers such as and W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles William Eliot, Charles Eliot Norton, and Barrett Wendell. Arguing that Henry Adams, Henry James and Edith Wharton articulated their political thought in response to the liberalism that reigned in Boston and, more specifically, at Harvard University, this book shows how each of these authors interrogated that liberalism’s arguments for education, democracy and the political duties of the cultivated elite. Coit shows that the works of these authors contributed to a realist critique of a liberal New England idealism that fed into the narrative about ’the genteel tradition’, which shaped the study of US literature during the twentieth century.”

Entry prepared by Ammie E. Harrison.

Hemispheres and Stratospheres: The Idea and Experience of Distance in the International Enlightenment Edited by Kevin L. Cope

Bucknell University Press | $44.95 | Published 2020 | 262 pages | ISBN 9781684482016

From the Press “Recognizing distance as a central concern of the Enlightenment, this volume offers eight essays on distance in art and literature; on cultural transmission and exchange over distance; and on distance as a topic in science, a theme in literature, and a central issue in modern research methods. Through studies of landscape gardens, architecture, imaginary voyages, transcontinental philosophical exchange, and cosmological poetry, Hemispheres and Stratospheres unfurls the early history of a distance culture that influences our own era of global information exchange, long-haul flights, colossal skyscrapers, and space tourism.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, Literary Networks and Transatlantic Publishing in the 1890s: The Author Incorporated by Glenda Norquay

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Anthem Press | £80.00 | Published 2020 | 230 pages | ISBN 9781785272844

“[The work] investigates Stevenson and the geographies of his literary networks during the last years of his life and after his death. It profiles a series of figures who worked with Stevenson, negotiated his publications on both sides of the Atlantic, wrote for him or were inspired by him. Using archival material, correspondence, fiction and biographies it moves across these literary networks. It deploys the concept of ’literary prosthetics’ to frame its analysis of gatekeepers, tastemakers, agents, collaborators and authorial surrogates in the transatlantic production of Stevenson’s writing.”

Entry prepared by Ammie E. Harrison.

Essay Review: “Biopolitics of Seriality”: Frederick Douglass as Transatlantic Figure by Clare Pettitt

Pettitt, Clare. 2020. Serial forms. The unfinished project of Modernity, 1815-1848. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Most lovers of 19th-century literature will be familiar with celebrated African American abolitionist, orator, and author Frederick Douglass.  However, few of us are probably aware of the extent of Douglass’s efforts across the Atlantic to promote abolitionism and also to dismantle colonialism. This book chapter, “Biopolitics of Seriality,” from Claire Pettit’s book Serial Forms underpins Douglass’s involvement in the fight for equality, human rights, and mere food security even in Ireland—part of the British Empire— and the amazing friends and relationships he cultivated as a result of his interventions.  The book chapter which is quite wide-ranging notes a late-career publication of Douglass’s, his 1886 reminiscences of the condition of the Irish when he visited Ireland decades earlier.  Just as well, though, it does a masterful job of drawing Douglass’s enslaved experience into the relationship that he shared with the Howitt’s and shows why Douglass was so visceral in his critique of Irish colonialism and why he was so moved by the oppressed Irish and thus felt compelled to confront it. As Clare Pettit has argued, this chapter suggests that we need to develop a more complex way of thinking about the developing relationship between kinship, citizenship, and biopolitics at this critical historical moment. Arguably, Douglass was the perfect person to undertake this task.

Reviewed by Alonzo Smith

Transatlantic Upper Canada: Portraits in Literature, Land, and British-Indigenous Relations by Kevin Hutchings

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McGill-Queen’s University Press | Paperback 40.95 CAD | Published 2020 | 288 pages | ISBN 9780228001294

“Literature emerging from nineteenth-century Upper Canada, born of dramatic cultural and political collisions, reveals much about the colony’s history through its contrasting understandings of nature, ecology, deforestation, agricultural development, and land rights. In the first detailed study of literary interactions between Indigenous people and colonial authorities in Upper Canada and Britain, Kevin Hutchings analyzes the period’s key figures and the central role that romanticism, ecology, and environment played in their writings. Investigating the ties that bound Upper Canada and Great Britain together during the early nineteenth century, Transatlantic Upper Canada demonstrates the existence of a cosmopolitan culture whose implications for the land and its people are still felt today. The book examines
the writings of Haudenosaunee leaders John Norton and John Brant and Anishinabeg authors Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, Peter Jones, and George Copway, as well as European figures John Beverley Robinson, John Strachan, Anna Brownell Jameson, and Sir Francis Bond Head. Hutchings argues that, despite their cultural differences, many factors connected these writers, including shared literary interests, cross-Atlantic journeys, metropolitan experiences, mutual acquaintance, and engagement in ongoing dialogue over Indigenous territory and governance. A close examination of relationships between peoples and their understandings of land, Transatlantic Upper Canada creates a rich portrait of the nineteenth-century British Atlantic world and the cultural and environmental consequences of colonialism and resistance.”

Entry prepared by Ammie E. Harrison.

The Wheatley Peters Project

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“The Genius of Phillis Wheatley Peters” embodies both an honoring of the poet and her legacies and an opportunity to spotlight the learning power and the significance of literature in our lives. Through a partnership of the University of Georgia and TCU, this project also celebrates the efficacy of collaborative learning informed by a participatory vision of the humanities and the arts. Our codirectors, contributing team members, and many sponsoring groups and organizations have come together in shared learning throughout the 2023 anniversary year of Wheatley Peters’s Poems–and beyond.

Visit Our Sister Project: “The Genius of Phillis Wheatley Peters”

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.