restricted access Land of Immigrants
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Land of Immigrants
Nation and Migration: The Making of British Atlantic Literature, 1765-1835

Juliet Shields

Oxford University Press
195 Pages; Print, $50.00

inline graphic Juliet Shields is an Associate Professor at University of Washington and the author of the newly published book Nation and Migration: The Making of British Atlantic Literature, 1765-1835. Her field of interest is to explore the eighteenth and nineteenth century British and American literature and investigate its role and contribution in the formation of national identities. The book Nation and Migration: The Making of British Atlantic Literature, 1765-1835 deals with the dialectical relationship between nation and migration and the role played by the British migrants in legitimizing the American cultural identity and the formation of Trans-Atlantic literature. The book first unravels the impact of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the formation of the cultural and political identity of the Great Britain. It further traces out a literary history of each country and its role in the formation of cultural identity of America and Trans-Atlantic literature.

The book is interesting and unique as it not only deals with the relation of the United States with England rather it also sheds light on Ireland, Scotland, and Wales's contributions in the formation of regional and international identities of Britain and the Unites States. The writer argues that the latest literary works do not fully explain the procedures through which the new United States separated itself socially from Britain and disparages the effect of migration on British nation formation.

The book is divided into five main chapters with an introduction at the beginning and epilogue at the end. The introduction gives a comprehensive insight to the content of the whole book. It states that America is the land of immigrants and the British migrants included the people coming from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in addition to the early English settlers. These people brought the stories with them which not only contributed in the formation of American identity but also referred back to the instability and the conflict of the British identity as well. Shields describes that the tales, experiences, feelings and sentiments of the migrants were not recorded in any journals, newspapers or recordings but those could be found rooted in the literature of that era. She further gives reference to the opinions of big writers such as Samuel Johnson, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Edmund Burke who explained the consequences of migration and the Anglo-American relationship.

The book further explains the contribution of the migrants from British to American territory in the formation of Trans-Atlantic literature. The Irish, Welsh, and Scottish migrants brought stories with them and their experience and traditions differed from that of the English settlers. American took up the stories based upon their social, cultural, geographic origins to establish their new identity. Secondly, America did not have the British migrants only but there were other people such as African slaves, Native Americans, and Europeans as well. These racial and regional identities also contributed in making up the British Atlantic literature. Lastly, various different literary writers made a huge contribution by drawing up connection between the British archipelago and the United States.

There are three independent chapters of the book which describe a detailed contribution of Irish, Scottish and Welsh literary genres. Chapter two describes that the Irish people were revolutionary and they posed threat to the British. When they migrated to the United States, they were treated with suspicion and hostility and their uncanny behavior was reflected through the Gothic literature. The gothic writers started associating the Irish migrants as uncanny due to their native origins. Chapter three further describes the myth associated with the successful Scottish migrants and its contribution in the literature which is a writing about Scottish migrants. James Fenimore Cooper through the use of Walter Scott novels described the formation of American identity which was culturally mixed but racially independent. Scotts were able to assert their separate identity in the United States which they could not express...