Islam and the English Enlightenment, 1670-1840
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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List of Figures
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This volume examines how sympathetic literary and cultural representations of the Islamic republic contributed significantly to Protestant Britain’s evolving self-definition between 1670 and 1840. Radical Protestant accounts about the Islamic republic—in which the Prophet Muhammad, the wise legislator, restored constitutional rule...
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A book of this massive scale and chronology will inevitably be disputed among scholars for years to come, but the many debts I have acquired while writing it, from a dissertation to a final manuscript, are beyond dispute. My primary debt is to Robert Markley. As a dedicated advisor and meticulous reader, he spent innumerable hours reading and rereading...
Introduction: Rethinking Islam in the Eighteenth Century
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Islamic republicanism is a term that describes how radical Protestants in eighteenth-century England self-consciously recast Islam in constitutional-nationalist terms, and in this book I argue for this action’s crucial significance. My theoretical premise is that “Mahometanism” (a commonplace Christian nomenclature for Islam) marks the occasion for what Jacques Derrida designates as the return...
1 A True Protestant Mahometan: Henry Stubbe, Ottoman Hungary, and the Siege of Vienna
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Radical Protestantism achieved historical, philosophical, and ideological coherence in part through its sympathetic identification with Islamic republicanism, a flexible trope that casts Mahomet’s Christian prophetic monarchy as a supplement to English constitutional virtue. As Matthew Birchwood and Nabil Matar have consistently shown...
2 Letters from a Female Deist: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Muslim Women, and Freethinking Feminism
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Written between 1717 and 1718 while traveling to the Levant with her husband, the English ambassador Edward Wortley, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s The Turkish Embassy Letters (1763) is usually read as a feminist text obsessed with one emblematic episode: her eroticized encounter with the Turkish women of the hammam (private bathhouses off-limits to men) as described in an April 1717 letter. ...
3 In Defense of the Ancient Mughal Constitution: Edmund Burke, India, and the Warren Hastings Trial
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In February 1788 in Westminster Hall, Edmund Burke condemned Warren Hastings, the East India Company’s governor-general from 1773 to 1784, for committing worse injustices in India than his Muslim counterparts in the Mughal empire. According to Burke, Hastings should be impeached for importing tyranny to Hindustan, a nation protected by the long constitutional rule of a “Mahometan Government.” ...
4 Ali Bonaparte in Hermetic Egypt: The Colonial Politics of Walter Savage Landor’s Gebir
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One of most subversive moments in Walter Savage Landor’s epic poem Gebir (1798) occurs in book 6, when Tamar, a poor shepherd and Gebir’s brother, falls madly in love with an Egyptian nymph who takes him on a magical flight over Europe. In the middle of this episode, Landor inserts a provocative vision about...
5 The Flight and Return of Mohammed: Plotting Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s and Robert Southey’s Unitarian Epic
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Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were enthusiastic about writing a grand Miltonic epic to be titled “The Flight and Return of Mohammed.” In the months of July–August 1799, they drafted their plans for their collaborative project, which was to describe some of the historical events that shaped Muhammad’s life (see appendixes). ...
6 A Last Woman’s Eschatology: The Avenging Turks in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man
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Mary Shelley’s interest in a syncretistic account of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is best exemplified in Percy Shelley’s The Assassins: A Fragment of a Romance (1814–15), an unpublished work that she edited and transcribed.1 This incomplete “fragment” romance aligns the historical narrative of the Jewish diaspora following General Titus’ sacking of Jerusalem in ad 70 with an Oriental tale...
Epilogue: Postcolonial Reflections
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Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams could not foresee that his reflections on the selective accommodation of the Shar’ia within the framework of UK statutory law would erupt into an international controversy the day after he delivered his foundational lecture at the Royal Courts of Justice on February 2008. ...
Appendix A: Outline of “MOHAMMED”
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Appendix B: Southey’s Sketch of “MOHAMMED”
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Page Count: 368
Illustrations: 5 b&w illustrations.
Publication Year: 2011