Abstract

John Gabriel Stedman's Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolting Negroes of Surinam ranks among the most important and influential humanitarian texts of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By employing images that lean towards the pornographic, paired with the Burkean notions of the sublime, Stedman attracts a particularly male audience, yet at the same time creates a fertile ground for humanitarian empathy in his readers. Coded erotic attraction coupled with repulsive violence also governs William Blake's illustrations of the torture scenes included in Stedman's Narrative. In order to come to terms with this paradoxical side by side of arousal and rejection, I will use psychoanalytic film theory to account for some of the pornographic mechanisms at work in the Narrative and its illustrations, as well as apply Burkean concepts of the sublime as a possible contemporaneous theoretical source for Stedman's text.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-661X
Print ISSN
0028-6087
Pages
pp. 559-587
Launched on MUSE
2006-02-06
Open Access
No
Archive Status
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