Revising traditional 'rise of the nation-state' narratives, this collection explores the development of and interactions among various forms of local, national, and transnational identities and affiliations during the long eighteenth century. By treating place as historically contingent and socially constructed, this volume examines how Britons experienced and related to a landscape altered by agricultural and industrial modernization, political and religious reform, migration, and the building of nascent overseas empires. In mapping the literary and cultural geographies of the long eighteenth century, the volume poses three challenges to common critical assumptions about the relationships among genre, place, and periodization. First, it questions the novel’s exclusive hold on the imagining of national communities by examining how poetry, drama, travel-writing, and various forms of prose fiction each negotiated the relationships between the local, national, and global in distinct ways. Second, it demonstrates how viewing the literature and culture of the long eighteenth century through a broadly conceived lens of place brings to the foreground authors typically considered 'minor' when seen through more traditional aesthetic, cultural, or theoretical optics. Finally, it contextualizes Romanticism’s long-standing associations with the local and the particular, suggesting that literary localism did not originate in the Romantic era, but instead emerged from previous literary and cultural explorations of space and place. Taken together, the essays work to displace the nation-state as a central category of literary and cultural analysis in eighteenth-century studies.
Evan Gottlieb is Associate Professor of English at Oregon State University, USA, and Juliet Shields is Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington, USA.
'Recommended.' Choice '... the collection's focus remains very closely on the literary throughout - a category which is defined refreshingly broadly, and within which is produced a detailed, nuanced survey of the role of authorial tradition and reading practice.' Romantic Textualities 'This excellent collection of essays contributes to a growing body of critical work that challenges the predominance of the interpretative model of the nation-state ... cumulatively these essays represent an advertisement for the benefits of moving beyond monolithic assumptions about place, such as that of centre and periphery, or local and national, towards more complex understandings of networks between places and between different understandings of place.' Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 'Readers of this collection will come away with provocative new ways of theorizing place and decentering nation, and Dafydd Moore's insightful coda helps connect such models to broader trends in place-based research.' BARS Review