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Title: British Romanticism, slavery and the slave trade, 1780s to 1830s
Author: Sonoi, Chine
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis investigates the Romantic discourses on slavery in their socio-political context from 1780s to 1830s. I explore the abolitionist discourses of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey, and examine how they expressed their egalitarian sensibilities and revolutionary ideas through their work. The thesis demonstrates how Romantic ideology and eighteenth-centuiy radicalism developed alongside the growth of the abolitionist movement in England. The egalitarian ideology of the Romantics derived from their republican nature as well as their dissenting philosophy. The Romantics showed sympathy towards black slaves and their suffering. As dissenters, they shared the frustration and indignation felt by black slaves, whose social rights were repressed in English society. Through their anti-slavery propaganda, the Romantics criticised the way in which the British government and the Established Church were destroying human freedom and equality. The thesis shows how the Romantics used their abolitionist discourses to display their humanitarian theology as well as to protest against social injustice. I also examine the complex relation between the Romantic discourses on slaveiy and liberalism and nationalism. The Romantic abolitionists often revealed a Euro-centric vision with regard to slavery issues; I refer in particular to the role of anti-slavery propaganda in the argument for justifying the conversion of slaves to Christianity. By claiming that it was necessary to educate slaves by imposing Christian doctrine on them, the Romantics demonstrated their belief in the superiority of white European civilisation. This assumption mirrored the fierce discrimination against black people which prevailed at that time. I investigate the delicate balance between the Romantics' humanitarian sensibility and their nationalist ideology in their abolitionist work. Chapters 1 and 2 examine the history of the British slave trade and the abolitionist debate, in preparation for an analysis of the relationship between Romantic poetiy and its social context. Chapters 3 to 6 focus on the abolitionist discourses of each Romantic poet. This study offers a key to understanding the socio-political nature of Romantic ideology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available