The Anxieties of Idleness
Idleness in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture
The Anxieties of Idleness: Idleness in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture investigates the preoccupation with idleness that haunts the British eighteenth century. Sarah Jordan argues that as Great Britain began to define itself as a nation during this period, one important quality it claimed for itself was industriousness. But this claim was undermined and complicated by, among other factors, the importance of leisure to the upholding of class status, thus making idleness a subject of intense anxiety. One result of this anxiety was an increased surveillance of the supposed idleness of marginalized and less powerful members of society: the working classes, the nonwhite races, and women.
About the author:
Sarah Jordan is an associate professor of English at Albion College, where she teaches classes in eighteenth-century British literature and Romanticism. Her articles have appeared in The Age of Johnson and Eighteenth-Century Life.