Patriotic and domestic love : nationhood and national identity in British literature 1789-1848.
This study argues that nationalism is concerned not only with
relations and differences between rival nations, but is also
related to questions of class, power, and representation within
nations. It explores the development of a conservative form of
nationalism in England which, following Edmund Burke's
Reflections on the Late Revolution in France (1790), elaborates
a defence of the hegemony of the aristocracy, in response to the
increasing economic and cultural power of the middle class, born
of the rapid growth of commercial and industrial economy.
Literature is central in the development of this nationalism, and
writings by Coleridge, Wordsworth, Scott, Disraeli, and more
briefly, Dickens are considered.
There are two distinct images of nationhood in England in
the period. These are on the one hand a vision of nationhood
which links the nation to the existence of a public, a residual
aristocratic ideal of the nation which is defined within the
terms of the discourse of civic humanism, and on the other hand
a vision of England which identifies English nationhood with
rural society, village community, and the private and domestic
space of the home; an ideal of the nation which emerges in
relation to commercial and industrial culture, and which becomes
identified with the middle class. These two ideals of nationhood
become the focus of a struggle of representations between
aristocracy and middle class. The tensions which this struggle
between these conflicting images of the English nation creates
are explored, considering their implications for the politics and
representation of national, class, and gender identities. This
study demonstrates that debates about the movement from a landbased
pre-industrial to an industrial society are framed within
a broader debate about the nature and meanings of Englishness and
English nationhood. The relationship of this nationalism to
developing discourses of imperialism is also explored.