Intellectual Politics and Cultural Conflict in the Romantic Period: Scottish Whigs, English Radicals and the Making of the British Public Sphere, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Intellectual Politics and Cultural Conflict in the Romantic Period

Scottish Whigs, English Radicals and the Making of the British Public Sphere, 1st Edition

By Alex Benchimol


246 pages

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Intellectual Politics and Cultural Conflict in the Romantic Period maps the intellectual formation of English plebeian radicalism and Scottish philosophic Whiggism over the long eighteenth century and examines their associated strategies of critical engagement with the cultural, social and political crises of the early nineteenth century. It is a story of the making of a wider British public sphere out of the agendas and discourses of the radical and liberal publics that both shaped and responded to them. When juxtaposed, these competing intellectual formations illustrate two important expressions of cultural politics in the Romantic period, as well as the peculiar overlapping of national cultural histories that contributed to the ideological conflict over the public meaning of Britain's industrial modernity. Alex Benchimol's study provides an original contribution to recent scholarship in Romantic period studies centred around the public sphere, recovering the contemporary debates and national cultural histories that together made up a significant part of the ideological landscape of the British public sphere in the early nineteenth century.


'This is an original contribution to an important field of study. The emphasis on conflicting national traditions sets this book apart from existing discussions of the Romantic public sphere.' Philip Shaw, University of Leicester, UK ’Benchimol’s study is a valuable contribution to the study of the Romantic public sphere and the competing role of national cultural formations in understanding Britain’s industrial modernity.’ The Year’s Work in English Studies '… this work is not simply a contrast of English and Scottish views, of Whig and Radical opinions, or even of differing class positions. Although, where appropriate, it discusses moments of conflict between members of each camp, Francis Jeffrey and William Cobbett for example, it is primarily involved in mapping out a far broader, multi-dimensional study of the way particular complex public spheres emerge and change over time in response to changing historical circumstances and to other competing equally complicated spheres.' Scottish Literary Review 'Intellectual Politics and Cultural Conflict in the Romantic Period extends theories of the Romantic public sphere into the Scottish Enlightenment and further into English plebeian radicalism. The critical turn that Benchimol considers is as revolutionary as the literature it analyses.' European Journal of English Studies 'Read alongside each other, as the structure of Benchimol’s book invites us to do, the two very different histories which form the subject of Intellectual Politics and Cultural Conflict in the Romantic Period constitute an eloquent and wide-ranging assessment of both the extraordinary complexity and the enduring influence of these two very different struggles to forge a post-Enlightenment vision at the limits of convention definitions of the public sphere. Benchimol’s insights could not have been more timely.' BARS Bulletin and Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: new sites of cultural conflict in the Romantic period; Cultural theory and the Habermasian public sphere; Cultural leadership in 'North Britain' and the making of the Scottish Enlightenment public sphere; Formations of popular English cultural politics and the making of the radical plebeian public sphere; Scottish philosophic Whiggism and Romantic cultural critique; post-Enlightenment intellectual politics in the Edinburgh Review; Radical Englishness in the Romantic period: intellectual leadership and popular cultural resistance in the plebeian public sphere; Afterword: national cultural history, cultural studies, and the Romantic public sphere; Selected bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Alex Benchimol is lecturer in the Department of English Literature at the University of Glasgow, UK

About the Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series aims to develop and promote new approaches and fresh directions in scholarship and criticism on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The series encourages work which erodes the traditional boundary between Romantic and Victorian studies and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the literary, religious, scientific and visual cultures of the period. While British literature and culture are the core subject matter of monographs and collections in the series,  the editors encourage proposals which explore the wider, international contexts of nineteenth-century literature – transatlantic, European and global.  Print culture, including studies in the newspaper and periodical press, book history, life writing and gender studies are particular strengths of this established series as are high quality single author studies.  The series also embraces research in the field of digital humanities. The editors invite proposals from both younger and established scholars in all areas of nineteenth-century literary studies. 

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