Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Postcolonial Studies

Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Postcolonial Studies

Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Postcolonial Studies

Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Postcolonial Studies

Synopsis

In this volume Suvir Kaul addresses the relations between literary culture, English commercial and colonial expansion, and the making of 'Great Britain' in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He argues that literary writing played a crucial role in generating the vocabulary of British nationalism, both in inter-national terms and in attempts to realign political and cultural relations between England, Scotland, and Ireland. The formal innovations and practices characteristic of eighteenth-century English literature were often responses to the worlds brought into view by travel writers, merchants, and colonists. Writers (even those suspicious of mercantile and colonial expansion) worked with a growing sense of a 'national literature' whose achievements would provide the cultural capital adequate to global imperial power, and would distinguish Great Britain for its twin success in 'arms and arts'. The book ranges from Davenant's theatre to Smollet's Roderick Random to Phillis Wheatley's poetry to trace the impact of empire on literary creativity.

Excerpt

Postcolonial Literary Studies foregrounds the colonial and neo-colonial contexts of literary and cultural texts, and demonstrates how these texts help to understand past and present histories of empires. The books in the series relate key literary and cultural texts both to their historical and geographical moments, and to contemporary issues of neo-colonialism and global inequality. In addition to introducing the diverse body of postcolonial criticism, theory and scholarship in literary studies, the series engages with relevant debates on postcolonialism in other disciplines — history, geography, critical theory, political studies, economics and philosophy. The books in the series exemplify how postcolonial studies can re-configure the major periods and areas of literary studies. Each book provides a comprehensive survey of the existing field of scholarship and debate with a time line, a literature survey, discussion of key critical, theoretical, historical and political debates, case studies providing exemplary critical readings of key literary texts, and guides to further reading. At the same time, each book is also an original critical intervention in its own right. In much the same way that feminism has re-defined how all literary texts are analyzed, our ultimate aim is that this series will contribute to all texts in literary studies being read with an awareness of their colonial and neocolonial resonances.

D. J. and A. L.

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