African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century: The Politics of Race and Reason

African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century: The Politics of Race and Reason

African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century: The Politics of Race and Reason

African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century: The Politics of Race and Reason

Synopsis

The eighteenth century was a time of great cultural change in Britain. It was a period of exploration, in which adventurers journeyed to the New World, Africa, and the Orient, and these voyages were reflected in contemporary travel literature. It was also a period in which seventeenth-century empiricism and the scientific method became dominant, and in which society became increasingly secular. Fundamental to the eighteenth-century worldview was the prominence of the Great Chain of Being, in which all creatures and their Creator stood in a hierarchical relationship to one another. With voyages to Africa becoming more common, blacks were brought to Britain as slaves. These Africans living in Britain sometimes wrote about their place in society, and Whites debated the place of the black slaves within the hierarchy of the universe. This book examines representations of blacks in British literature to illuminate how society viewed blacks during the eighteenth century. Included are discussions of major canonical writers such as Pope, Swift, and Sterne, along with discussions of works by African-British writers such as James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, Olaudah Equiano, and Mary Prince.
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