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

Overview

Revolutionary Subjects in the English "Jacobin" Novel engages ongoing debates on subject formation and rights discourse through the so-called "English Jacobin" novels. 'stensibly 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 ...

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Overview

Revolutionary Subjects in the English "Jacobin" Novel engages ongoing debates on subject formation and rights discourse through the so-called "English Jacobin" novels. 'stensibly 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.

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Meet the Author

Miriam L. Wallace is associate professor of British and American Literature at New College of Florida.

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