The Literature of Empire, 1750-1900

Spring 2012-2013


James Chandler; Jennifer Pitts

This course considers the place of literature, broadly construed, in the imperial imagination of the British and French empires. Our range of interests will be broad enough to include, for example: historical narratives of imperial expansion and national consolidation; representations of race and slavery; the relationship of literary representations to political debates over conquest, slavery, imperial trading companies, and global commerce; and attempts in poetry and prose to represent personal experiences, or the “inner life,” of empires. We will be reading works by British, Irish, French, and Indian writers such as Laurence Sterne, Samuel Foote, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Denis Diderot, Maria Edgeworth, Lady Morgan, Sir Walter Scott, George Sand, T.B. Macaulay, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Rabindranath Tagore, and Joseph Conrad. We will also be looking at recent scholarly debates from various disciplinary angles in literary studies, political theory, history, and postcolonial studies.