Symbolic Interactions: Social Problems and Literary Interventions in the Works of Baillie, Scott, and Landor

Overview

Taking literally Joanna Baillie's claim that drama can promote social justice, the study explores how plays by Baillie, novels by Walter Scott, and Imaginary Conversations by Walter Savage Landor address problems of capital punishment, poverty, and political participation. Baillie's and Scott's preoccupation with affective responses to criminals and beggars takes on new significance when situated next to nationalist efforts to use legal differences to promulgate an image of Scotland as a more compassionate ...
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Overview

Taking literally Joanna Baillie's claim that drama can promote social justice, the study explores how plays by Baillie, novels by Walter Scott, and Imaginary Conversations by Walter Savage Landor address problems of capital punishment, poverty, and political participation. Baillie's and Scott's preoccupation with affective responses to criminals and beggars takes on new significance when situated next to nationalist efforts to use legal differences to promulgate an image of Scotland as a more compassionate society than England and when contrasted with Landor's confidence in political claims-making to meet social needs. The study enlists analogies between the 'symbolic interaction' prompted by the selected writers and the concepts of 'symbolic interaction' still evolving from the sociology of Jane Addams, George Herbert Mead, and subsequent practitioners to recover a belief in the social efficacy of literature that was accepted during the pre-disciplinary Romantic era but contested throughout much of the twentieth century. The study advocates the renewal of literary interventionism in our post-disciplinary age.
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Editorial Reviews

The Wordsworth Circle
Hewitt [...] is a subtle reader of texts and brings in a branch of social science [...] that most people trained in English studies do not know very well'
— Michael Scrivener, Wayne State University
The Wordsworth Circle - Michael Scrivener
'Hewitt [...] is a subtle reader of texts and brings in a branch of social science [...] that most people trained in English studies do not know very well'
Sir, Vol.47, Winter 2008 - Bruce Beiderwell
'The commentary on Landor's Imaginary Conversations, along with her readings of several works of Baillie...and the three major Scott novels...are imaginative and richly contextualized by discussions of the criminal law, the poor laws, the dissolution of community, and the value/limits of political contention. All in all, Symbolic Interactions contributes not only to our reading of its primary subjects, but to our appreciation of the potential of approaches we've only begun to consider.'
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Regina Hewitt is professor of English at the University of South Florida.
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction : conceptualizing symbolic interaction 17
2 The problem of criminal justice 48
3 Baillie's interventions 77
4 The problem of poverty 104
5 Impoverished social relations 125
6 Landor and the solution of political contention 148
7 Baillie, Scott and the problem of political contention 171
8 The problem of disciplinarity 197
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