Sovereign Power and the Enlightenment

Peter DeGabriele

Eighteenth-Century Literature and the Problem of the Political

2015
216 pages
$70.00
ISBN 9781611486964
Transits

Sovereign Power and the Enlightenment examines the role of the novelists and historians of the eighteenth century in developing a vision of political modernity that questions traditional narratives about the rise of liberalism and the decline of sovereign power. It provides a new way to link the literature and philosophy of the eighteenth century with the meditations on violence and sovereignty that have preoccupied much of the political philosophy of the first years of the twenty first century. Focusing on the novelists Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Ann Radcliffe, and on the historians David Hume and Edward Gibbon, DeGabriele shows how these authors use the resources of their respective genres to expose the persistence of sovereign violence and to outline a type of political subject who could resist the violence more effectively than the individual beloved of modern liberalism.

Reviews

"Peter DeGabriele's book offers us a great deal, in its close reading of eighteenth-century texts (novels and histories) as in its questioning of public sphere discourse as a variety of liberalism. DeGabriele employs continental political philosophy (especially, recent work by Roberto Esposito, Giorgio Agamben, Ernesto Laclau, and Jacques Derrida) in a field (eighteenth-century British literary history) that has, beyond Jürgen Habermas's Habilitationsschrift of 1962, traditionally ignored it."
-Tony C. Brown, University of Minnesota; Studies in the Novel (48.2), Summer 2016

"Fluently wielding critical approaches drawn from Robert Esposito, Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida, and Hannah Arendt (among others), DeGabriele engages closely with the novel as well as historical narratives (Hume and Gibbon), eighteenth-century political theory (from Hobbes to Burke), and theories of materiality and agency (Locke, Hume, and others). Throughout, he notes the sometimes surprising role that problems associated with sovereignty - indivisibility, arbitrariness, decisions without foundation - play in narratives of intimacy, touch, tactful silence, domestic pleasure, and moments of witnessing."
-Christopher F. Loar, Western Washington University; Eighteenth-Century Fiction (29.3), Spring 2017

"I found DeGabriele's readings of novels stimulating and often persuasive."
- Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Volume 56, Number 3, Summer 2016

About the author:

Peter DeGabriele specialises in the study of eighteenth century literature and culture, with a particular emphasis on the relation between literary texts and the political philosophy and epistemology of the period. His book, Sovereign Power and the Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Literature and the Problem of the Political, was published by Bucknell University Press in 2015. The book examines the role of the novelists and historians of the eighteenth century in developing a vision of political modernity that questions traditional narratives about the rise of liberalism and the decline of sovereign power. Dr. DeGabriele has also published articles on Frances Burney, David Hume, and Daniel Defoe, and is currently at work on a new book project on the concept of proximity in the Enlightenment.

Also available in ebook, ISBN: 978-1-61148-697-1, Price: $69.99

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