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Title: Public quarrelling in the Romantic period : the rhetorical styles of John Burgoyne, Thomas Paine, William Cobbett, and Percy Bysshe Shelley
Author: Alkormaji, A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5920 7196
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis focuses on the concept and style of quarrelling in the writings of four British Romantic authors: General John Burgoyne (1722-1792), Thomas Paine (1737-1809), William Cobbett (1763-1835), and Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). All four authors engaged in radical writing about war, politics and various controversial social issues during the American War of Independence and the Regency period (1811-1820). This study situates their political arguments in the historical context and the political discourse of the time. It demonstrates how their style of arguing is particularly aptly described by the term 'quarrelling' because of the combination of personal motives, interests and conflicts with the discussion of larger public problems during this turbulent historical period. I start with a discussion of General Burgoyne’s pamphlets, through which he sought both to justify the political decision of the surrender of British troops at Saratoga and to clear his name of accusations of being personally responsible for losing the war. I compare Burgoyne’s suppression of anger and use of a polite style of arguing to Thomas Paine’s gradual transition from a humble quarrelling approach in his pamphlet The Case of the Officers of Excise to a more openly angry and sarcastic attitude in his later works in support of America’s independence. Paine’s predominantly rational and objective rhetoric is then contrasted to William Cobbett’s cantankerous attitude in his pamphlets, letters and his own newspaper The Political Register, through which he conducted polemical battles blending public issues with personal conflicts. Finally, the thesis compares the rhetorical devices of quarrelling exemplified in the political prose of Burgoyne, Paine and Cobbett to the use of poetry for the purposes of political quarrelling by Shelley. In this wide range of quarrelling attitudes, the thesis outlines the fluctuation between personal emotions, in particular anger, and an objective or polite tone in the written quarrels of each author, as well as between these authors. It thus demonstrates how their stylistic choices were affected by their social positions and circumstances and the different audiences they were addressing. The comparison of these four authors’ methods of combining personal and public arguing aims to give a sense of how quarrels were conducted within the public sphere in the Romantic period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available