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Title: The sweat of the brain : representations of intellectual labour in the writings of Edmund Burke, William Cobbett, William Hazlitt and Thomas Carlyle
Author: Ganobcsik-Williams, Gruffudd Aled
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis examines representations of intellectual work in the writings of Edmund Burke, William Cobbett, William Hazlitt, and Thomas Carlyle, focusing on their tendency to draw on an analogy between mental and manual labour when representing their own work to themselves and to their readers. It is my argument that while the assimilation of intellectual to physical labour can be seen as a symptom of political bad faith - suggesting, as it does, that thinking and writing are as painful or as difficult as digging and ploughing - the primary purposes of the analogy in the works of these four cultural commentators are, first, to forge rhetorical alliances with ordinary labourers, and, second, to attack other intellectuals engaged in what are alleged to be less arduous and less valuable forms of intellectual endeavour. By blaming the irresponsible activity of disaffected literary men for the political upheaval of the French Revolution, Burke set the terms for debate about the role of educated and literate men in society, a debate in which, for the first time, intellectuals competed for the allegiance of the labouring population. The analogy with manual labour was a key rhetorical site in the struggle to define an ideology for intellectuals, since it claims to ground the speaker or writer in the labouring community at large. For each author, I undertake close readings of several key texts to demonstrate the prevalence of the comparison with manual labour in the representation of intellectual activity. The political-ideological valence of the analogy is never straightforward, I contend, and it often occurs alongside an impulse to emphasise, as well as to elide, what are assumed to be the fundamental differences between mental and manual activity. We witness in the writings of Burke, Cobbett, Hazlitt, and Carlyle a recognisable mode of self-representation, for the desire to assimilate intellectual to material work has persisted.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature