Romanticism and Patriotism:
Nation, Empire, Bodies, Rhetoric
| Orrin N. C. Wang | Francesco Crocco | Matthew C. Borushko | Daniel O'Quinn |
| Andrew Lincoln | Noah Heringman | Jan Mieszkowski |
Orrin N. C. Wang, "Introduction."
The current cretinization of public, political language is often viewed as synonomous with the discourse of patriotism. This volume begins to demonstrate how complex the vocabulary of patriotism actually is, by investigating its diverse use during the Romantic period era. Patriotic nation building is at once linked to and disarticulated from the adventures of empire, the vulgar and excremental body, the cosmopolitan imaginary, and the compulsions of language. These interstices and disconnections constitute the very recits of a material, social antagonism that enmesh us to this day.
Francesco Crocco, "The Ruins of Empire: Nationalism, Art, and Empire in Hemans's Modern Greece."
This study discusses the significance of the trope of ruins and the paradigm of decline and fall to the rhetoric of nationalism and imperialism in Felicia Hemans's Modern Greece (1817). Hemans draws the opposite conclusion of C.F. Volney and Edward Gibbon, arguing for the ultimate compatibility and, indeed, interdependence of Western nation-making and imperialism. But this contention is made conditional upon the active participation of women in patriotic discourse. Through the discourse of (uncritical) patriotism, a site where women could in fact make their presence felt during her time, Hemans sought to broaden the role of women in political and public English life, and would herself become widely hailed as a model of domestic patriotism. In Modern Greece, which is an adaptation of the conventionally masculine travelogue genre, she is sensitive to the hazards of this project, employing innovative generic modes and narratological structures to manage the public fallout of gender-based discursive transgressions. Once rendered accessible by this stage work, the poem can then specifically accomplish the broadening of the role of contemporary women by arguing that the fall of ancient Greece occurred because of the failed education of its youth, itself a consequence of restricting the influence of Greece's mothers in Greek civil society. In making this argument, Hemans actively disputes the view that Greece's national decline was fated because of its imperialist designs, thereby restoring the link between nation-making and empire that Gibbon, Volney, and a tradition of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century texts had warned against. Instead, she issues her own equally apocalyptic warning to the nation: if Britain is to avoid Greece's tragic but avertable fate, it must find a place for patriotic women to speak and write in the public sphere.
Matthew C. Borushko, "'A nation or a world': Patriotism in Shelley."
The author argues for the relevance of Shelley's invocations of patriotism to our understanding of the relationship between his poetry and his politics. Often overlooked in Shelley's writings, patriotism is a vital concept to both Shelley's radical politics and his sociopolitical aesthetic in that, as a negation of self-love, it at once motivates the reformer and occasions community. Shelley's radical patriotism derives in part from the cosmopolitics of 1790s English radicalism, and it shares with Paine's radicalism an orientation towards the future, an as-yet-imagined, unwritten future of England. Employed in the "popular songs" but explored in a diverse body of writings that includes political pamphlets and On Love, Shelleyean patriotism is "proof," whatever the circumstance, that we love something besides ourselves. As such, it bears a close relation to the origin and function of poetry as theorized in A Defence of Poetry.
Daniel O'Quinn, "Projection, Patriotism, Surrogation: Handel in Calcutta."
This essay explores the complex performance of imperial supremacy following Cornwallis's victory over Tipu Sultan at Seringapatam in 1792 by attending to the relationship between pre-cinematic display and the enactment of patriotism in the Calcutta theatre. Cornwallis's victory involved not a decisive military annihilation, but rather an extraordinary diplomatic transferral of money, lands and two of Tipu's sons as hostages to British rule. This spectacle of military paternalism outside of Seringapatam was followed by elaborate celebratory performances in Calcutta. A Gala Concert was performed using amateur musicians and singers from the ranks of the East India Company and an extraordinary number of illuminations or projected transparencies were displayed throughout the town. The accounts of the concert indicate that transparencies were illuminated and extinguished in order to direct audience attention to various patriotic emblems before the actual performance of excerpts from Handel's Judas Maccabeus. Handel's famous patriotic oratorio was originally, and continued to be, understood as an allegory for George II's victory over the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Staging the oratorio in Calcutta at this moment carried multiple significance, for it not only celebrated the temporary termination of Tipu's rebellion, but also figured forth a fantasy of British unity aimed at resolving key anxiety regarding imperial failure in the Atlantic and ongoing conflict with France. The essay explores the dissonant moments in this allegorical translation from one historical moment to another, but also raises questions regarding the relationship between patriotic performance and the commutable construction of social space.
Andrew Lincoln, "Walter Scott, Politeness, and Patriotism."
This essay argues that Scott's historical investigations are partly driven by his patriotic paternalism, which shapes his interest in forms of cultural interaction between social orders in earlier ages. Within his fictions the emergence of politeness is grounded in a history of social division and exclusion: at various points his works allude to a process in which the nobility, the clergy and the bourgeoisie withdrew from what was once a common culture. Scott's interest in this aspect of cultural history anticipates that of modern historians, including Jurgen Habermas, Peter Burke, Peter Stallybrass and Allon White. He shows that this historical process involved changes in the use of space, and changes in the acceptable norms of bodily behaviour. This history implies that the moderate consciousness of his heroes—restrained, detached, reasonable—has been made possible by the historical disembedding of identity from the social, material and cultural grounds that governed individuals in earlier ages. Following the example of Swift (seen as a great Irish patriot who strove to unite his nation by writing in “every varied form”) Scott's own patriotic mission is an attempt to compensate for, and counteract, the divisive social consequences of modernisation, not only at the level of ideological difference (by enacting moderation) but also at the level of feeling: the recoil from the "vulgar" is transformed into a movement to re-establish relations on manageable terms. Rather than simply rejecting unrefined passions, Scott uses the historical perspective to allow a partial—and of course, heavily qualified—recovery of them. The inconsistencies and contradictions that arise from Scott's mixture of diverse materials are signs of his patriotic intent: in contrast to Coleridge, the imagined unity of the audience remained more important to Scott than the unity of the work.
Noah Heringman, "'Manlius to Peter Pindar': Satire, Patriotism, and Masculinity in the 1790s."
This essay examines the political satires of John Wolcot (alias Peter Pindar) in the context of the numerous patriotic attacks on their author between 1787 and 1801. Wolcot's satires on George III met with ferocious, politically motivated attacks on the poet's masculinity. These can be explained only in part with reference to the French Revolution: Wolcot's literary combats, and his influence on younger satirists such as James Gillray, also testify to the longer-term importance of sodomy, scatology, and gendered notions of the king's two bodies in English political debate. Wolcot insisted on the corporeality of the King's body and of his desires. In the 1790s these assertions were received as libel, sedition, and blasphemy, rather than as unpatriotic. In fact, Wolcot's continued success in the face of political attacks can be attributed to his stance of loyal opposition, a stance related to "patriotism" in its dominant eighteenth-century sense. The conflict surrounding Wolcot thus illuminates the massive shifts occurring since that time in the definition of patriotism and the composition of the body politic, but also reinforces the connection between patriotism and masculinity.
Jan Mieszkowski, "Patriot Acts: The Political Language of Heinrich von Kleist."
This essay argues that the real provocation of the idea of patriotism is that it forces us to conceive of a politics grounded in affect rather than in rights, laws, or principles. Mieszkowski begins by showing that Romantic political morphology is not based in the self-determining praxis of an autonomous individual. He then explores the understanding of linguistic self-affection in Heinrich von Kleist's The Battle of Hermann. In this notoriously violent play, political strife proves to be as much a contest of address as it is a question of armed clash on the battlefield. In the final analysis, individual sovereignty rests on a leader's ability to ironize the greetings that ostensibly salute his authority.