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Revolutionary Subjects in the English "Jacobin" Novel, 1790-1805

Miriam L. Wallace

Jacket illustration: John Chapman (British, active 1772-1816), "The Genius of Literature presenting her Pupils to Minerva," 18th-19th century. Stipple engraving, 26.4x19.7 cm (image). Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, 1963.30.12470.

2009
314 pages
$65.00
ISBN 1611483024
Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture

Revolutionary Subjects in the English "Jacobin" Novel engages ongoing debates on subject formation and rights discourse through the so-called "English Jacobin" novels. Ostensibly celebrating the universal rights-bearing subject, these political novels inadvertently also questioned the limitations of such universal conceptions. Including works by both men and women, and those normatively identified as radical alongside others considered more conservative or even "anti-Jacobin," this work examines the shared efforts to represent developing political consciousness and to inculcate such consciousness in readers across a reformist continuum. These novels' efforts to expand the citizen-subject threatened to reveal the cost implicit in accessing subjectivity on universal terms. Wallace argues that subversive narrative strategies in fiction, including William Godwin's Things as They Are (1794), Robert Bage's Hermsprong (1796), and Amelie Opie's Adeline Mowbray (1805), undercut and question the sovereign subject modeled as the ideal republican radical subject and describe a discourse that is not always in line with the work's overt "moral." If the concept of human rights appears both necessary and inadequate in 2009, it was likewise problematic in the revolutionary 1790s.

Reviews
"Wallace's book is an important contribution to [the] work of cultural recovery, including insightful and probing analyses both of understudied literary texts and more familiar ones, as well as a sophisticated theoretical framework in which to view them together...Wallace's book is an indispensible contribution to the study of the revolutionary era and will be welcomed by scholars of the period for its cogent analyses as well as for its carefully wrought depiction of a culture whose concerns, vibrantly and forcefully articulated in their own time, continue to be so strikingly relevant today." -- Amy Garnai, in Eighteenth-Century Fiction 2010: 440.

"Sharp and cogent..." -- Ian Duncan, in SEL 2010: 908

"Wallace is a perceptive close reader as well as a well-informed theoretician"--Shawn Lisa Maurer,TSWL,29:2 (Fall 2010)

"Both Wallace books will surely establish themselves as important contributions to revivifying the study of the romantic-era novel." --Robert Miles, Eighteenth-Century Life, 36: 1 (Winter 2012).

About the author:

Miriam L. Wallace is Associate Professor of British and American Literature at New College of Florida. She has written on embodied masculinity in Tristram Shandy, gendered subjects in Elizabeth Inchbald's A Simple Story, feminism in Mary Hay's Emma Courtney, and on Thomas Holcroft's 1794 trial for "constructive treason." Co-winner of the 1997 ASECS Teaching Award for "The French Revolution and the Cultural Imagination," Wallace produced a classroom edition of Memoirs of Emma Courtney and Adeline Mowbray; or the Mother and the Daughter (2004). Her current research examines sites of transgressive speech and legal fictions, including riots, trials, mutinies, Quaker writers, and crim.com cases.

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