The limited scholarship concerning cross-pollination between eighteenth-century science and political theory has begun to show how they informed the claims and premises of each other. This scholarship, however, has been too ready to use Newtonian physics, largely a science of space, as a placeholder for eighteenth-century natural knowledge. Important developments in the understanding of matter had similarly profound implications for political thought. In this essay, I adapt Foucault's theorization of the body as a site of discursive struggle to examine the confluence of political and medico-chemical science in Tobias Smollett's The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771). Smollett diagnoses Britain's ailing political body, which was exposed at midcentury to commercial bombardment and moral decay threatening national disintegration. The titular Humphry Clinker is offered as ethical model and coagulative remedy. A vagrant religious enthusiast, Clinker's disruptive practices display, nonetheless, the curative potential of an economy of ethical obligation, which would reinforce failing commercial and legal ligaments in Leviathan's body by catalyzing interpersonal bonds.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 23-44
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.