Feeling British

Evan Gottlieb

Sympathy and National Identity in Scottish and English Writing 1707-1832

274 pages
ISBN 1611482805
Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture

Feeling British argues that the discourse of sympathy both encourages and problematizes a sense of shared national identity in eighteenth-century and Romantic British literature and culture. Although the 1707 Act of Union officially joined England and Scotland, government policy alone could not overcome centuries of feuding and ill will between these nations. Accordingly, the literary public sphere became a vital arena for the development and promotion of a new national identity: Britishness. The book starts by examining the political implications of the Scottish Enlightenment's theorization of sympathy, the mechanism by which emotions are shared between people. From these philosophical beginnings, this study tracks how sympathetic discourse is deployed by a variety of authors - including Defoe, Smollett, Johnson, Wordsworth, and Scott - invested in constructing, but also in questioning, an inclusive sense of what it means to be British.


"...Feeling British is an excellent work of criticism and scholarship--a most readable book with a full and concentrated argument that appeals to broad interests in the eighteenth century. To be sure, Evan Gottlieb has given us a very fine addition to the recent studies devoted to the 'long eighteenth century.'" --John A. Vance, University of Georgia (New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century, 6.1, Spring 2009)

"Evan Gottlieb's Feeling British is a rewarding read. Rich in detail, acute in its analyses and theoretically informed without being weighed down by its critical apparatus, Feeling British offers a valuable contribution both to Scottish studies and to the larger field of British literature. While a number of previous critics have linked the interest in sympathy and society found in David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and other Enlightenment thinkers to the peculiar position of Scotland after the Union and the Jacobite rebellions, Gottlieb both extends their perspective and revises it by focusing on the ideological complications found in the writings of these philosophers and in the literary works which are partially informed by their writing."
-Leith Davis, Simon Fraser University (Eighteenth-Century Scotland, Spring 2008, n. 22)

"Indeed, recent cultural and historical explorations of Englishness regularly conflate the terms 'England' and 'Britain.' So hats off to Evan Gottlieb for his study, which examines the way that Britishness (in the sense of its Anglo-Scottish dimension) was constructed in the eighteenth century." --Richard J. Finlay, University of Strathclyde (Journal of British Studies, 47:4, October 2008)

"A thoughtful and often incisive study, Gottlieb's Feeling British demonstrates the historical and analytical knowledge eighteenth-century studies might contribute to a new age of the brain."--Janet Sorensen, UC Berkeley, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, 51:4 (Winter 2010)

About the author:

Evan Gottlieb is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Oregon State University, where he teaches courses on eighteenth-century and Romantic British literature, and literary and critical theory. He received his BA summa cum laude from McMaster University (Canada), and his MA and PhD from the University at Buffalo, SUNY. His articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as Studies in Romanticism, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation. He is currently at work on a book on Romanticism and globalization.


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