Poetic Voice and the Politics of Empire, 1730–1820
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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List of Illustrations
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Introduction: The Global Aesthetics of Poetic Voice
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“Poetry,” the French philosopher Denis Diderot argues, “must have something in it that is barbaric, vast, and wild.”1 His counterparts in Great Britain found such barbaric wildness in oral traditions near and far. Coming from seemingly primitive speakers whose passionate voices were thought to be natural and authentic, folk traditions felt enlivening and even slightly dangerous. Ancient bards...
1. Thomas Gray, Virtual Authorship, and the Performed Voice
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In the middle of a transition toward a fully developed literary marketplace from early modern notions of patronage and coterie circulation, eighteenth- century authors transformed and renegotiated their role in society. While the eighteenth century was not the first historical period to grapple with the effects of print on models of authorship— printing presses had existed in England since 1476— it...
2. Wales, Public Poetry, and the Politics of Collective Voice
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In 1822, hundreds of participants gathered in London for an eisteddfod, the traditional Welsh music festival that had been restarted during the eighteenth century after long neglect.1 The 1822 festival, held in a tavern called Freemason’s Hall, had poetic recitations, competitions among musicians, and medals awarded for the best poems and essays. Participants could listen to Welsh national...
3. Scotland and the Invention of Voice
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Perhaps the most controversial English language text of the eighteenth century was James Macpherson’s Fragments of Ancient Poetry, Collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and Translated from the Galic or Erse Language (1760). Replete with warriors and ghosts, desolate landscapes and chivalrous romance, these fragments of poetry were considered by some to be an invaluable cultural artifact...
4. Impersonating Native Voices in Anglo-Indian Poetry
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In addition to hiring tax collectors, surveyors, and merchants, the East India Company— that “great Machine!” of sprawling commerce, as one admirer described it— also employed imaginative authors and scholars, to advance British interests.1 If the conquest of India was a “conquest of knowledge,” as Bernard Cohn suggests, then writers and scholars were as important to it as generals...
Coda: Reading the Archive of the Inauthentic
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Oral traditions and foreign voices from the edges of the British Empire revitalized eighteenth- century English literature as poets experimented with various ways to represent these traditions and voices on the printed page. The techniques they developed were a response to the period’s shifting relationship to cultural media: the positive revaluation of folk traditions as heroic, not vulgar...
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Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 17 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013