This seminar will explore nationalism and its cultural forms between 1745 and 1900. England will stand in the course as a kind of negative center of gravity, one shaping our sense of nationhood and narrative form even as we devote particular attention to specific British, American and European national and colonial discourses. How did the changing face of Britain--embodied through the Scottish (1707) and Irish (1800) Acts of Union, heralded by the "rises" of the first (1763ff) and second (1815ff) British empires, and performed both at Theatre Royals and in Parliamentary hearings--affect literary production, consumption, and reception? How did individual writers, through their representations of key historical moments at home and abroad, transform notions of identity and "character," both individual and national?
For the first several weeks of the semester we'll read critical writers like Benedict Anderson, Linda Colley, Ina Ferris, Eric Hobsbaum, and Katie Trumpener alongside novelists and playwrights like Jane Austen, Joanna Baillie, Charles Brockden Brown, Frances Burney, George Colman, Wilkie Collins, Maria Edgeworth, Elizabeth Inchbald, Sydney Owenson, Walter Scott, Tobias Smollett, Germaine de Stael, and Bram Stoker. Somewhere after its midway point, however, the course will transform itself into a true seminar, our readings following the interests of each participant.