The Romantic Period, Race and Enlightened Feminism

  • Eamon Wright

Abstract

This book simultaneously contemplates and critiques the raciology of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British women writers. In so doing it will unpack the ethical and ethnic moral-economy of the Romantic period.1 The primary subject of the work is the relationship between Enlightened Feminism, as feminism of the period has been called, and ideas of ‘race’ in the early Romantic period in Britain during the critical years of crisis and change, 1788–1818.2 The Romantic period was one of creative vibrancy, coupled with an attendant crisis and change of great velocity; the quantity and quality of literary intervention by women on the nature of the crisis facing the British polity — that is the pressures on the British nation, British civilization and British social, political and economic welfare — in an age of slavery, lends itself agreeably to an examination of the British feminist project of the late eighteenth century. What this book attempts to do is examine the manner in which both what British women writers said and how they said it, in poetry, novels, letters, memoirs, diaries and treatises were, at some point and in various ways, racially charged. This book is therefore a critique of British ethnic metaphysics.

Keywords

Europe Expense Posit Arena Nash 

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Ethical thought, relations between people, involves the ideas and ideals, interests and values, which guide behaviour. Arising from this is moral enquiry which, Berlin points out, may be applied to groups of people, nations and mankind: see Isaiah Berlin, The Crooked Timber of Humanity (London: John Murray, 1990), pp. 1–2. ‘Ethics’ and ‘ethnic’ are very closely linked. David Goldberg notes, ‘racialized discourse does not consist simply in descriptive representations of others. It includes a set of hypothetical premises about human kinds … and about the differences between them … It involves’, he points out, ‘a class of ethical choices (e.g., domination and subjugation, entitlement and restriction, disrespect and abuse).’Google Scholar
  2. David Goldberg, Racist Culture: Philosophy and the Politics of Meaning (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), p. 47. ‘All ethics,’ writes Jameson, ‘lives by exclusion and predicates certain types of Otherness …’ Jameson, op. cit., p. 60. It is important to recognize that a fracturing between ethnic and ethics is ultimately false. There is no intention here to value ethnic over ethics, rather the aim is to show that they are in fact inseparable.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
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© Eamon Wright 2005

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