Author: Paul Youngquist
Category: Literary Criticism
In highlighting the crucial contributions of diasporic people to British cultural production, this important collection defamiliarizes prevailing descriptions of Romanticism as the expression of a national character or culture. The contributors approach the period from the perspective of the Atlantic maritime economy, making a strong case for viewing British Romanticism as the effect of myriad economic and cultural exchanges occurring throughout a circum-Atlantic world driven by an insatiable hunger for sugar and slaves. Typically taken for granted, the material contributions of slaves, sailors, and servants shaped Romanticism both in spite of and because of the severe conditions they experienced throughout the Atlantic world. The essays range from Sierra Leone to Jamaica to Nova Scotia to the metropole, examining not only the desperate circumstances of diasporic peoples but also the extraordinary force of their creativity and resistance. Of particular importance is the emergence of race as a category of identity, class, and containment. Race, Romanticism, and the Atlantic explores that process both economically and theoretically, showing how race ensures the persistence of servitude after abolition. At the same time, the collection never loses sight of the extraordinary contributions diasporic peoples made to British culture during the Romantic era.