Affect and Abolition in the Anglo-Atlantic, 1770–1830
At the turn of the nineteenth century, writers arguing for the abolition of the slave trade and the emancipation of those in bondage used the language of sentiment and the political ideals of the Enlightenment to make their case. This collection investigates the rhetorical features and political complexities of the culture of sentimentality as it grappled with the material realities of transatlantic slavery. Are the politics of sentimental representation progressive or conservative? What dynamics are in play at the site of suffering? What is the relationship of the spectator to the spectacle of the body in pain? The contributors take up these and related questions in essays that examine poetry, plays, petitions, treatises and life-writing that engaged with contemporary debates about abolition.
’This volume is well edited, has a good index, and a useful selected bibliography. The footnotes to the chapters also contain valuable references ...a valuable contribution to the consideration of a problem of representation which is still very much with us today.’ -BARS Review
’... these essays represent a serious progression of ongoing debates surrounding eighteenth-century sensibility and its relationships to slavery, abolition, empire and race. Scholars familiar with monographs on these topics ... will certainly be interested in the fascinating case studies presented here. For those approaching the subject for the first time, Ahern’s lively introduction and the balanced scope of perspectives on offer will inspire many new and fruitful areas of enquiry.’
-Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
'One of the great strengths of [this book], a collection of essays exploring sentimental rhetoric in writing about slavery, is that it hangs together very well: all the essays address, in one way or another, the paradoxes that the editor Stephen Ahern sets out in his excellent and substantial introduction.' -SHARP News