Brokering Culture in Britain's Empire and the Historical Novel (Hardcover)
Brokering Culture in Britain's Empire and the Historical Novel examines the relationship between the historical sensibilities of nineteenth-century British and American "romancers" and the conceptual frameworks that eighteenth-century imperial interlocutors used to imagine and critique their own experiences of Britain's diffused, tenuous, and often accidental authority. Salyer argues that this cultural experience, more than what Luk cs had in mind when he wrote of a mass historical consciousness after Napoleon, gave rise to the Romantic historiographical approach of writers such as Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Brockden Brown and Frederick Marryat. This book traces the conversion of the eighteenth-century imperial speaker into the nineteenth-century "romance" hero through a number of proto-novelistic responses to the problem of Imperial history, including Edmund Burke in the Annual Register and the celebrated court case of James Annesley, among others. The author argues that popular Romantic novels such as Scott's Waverley and Cooper's The Pioneers convert the problem of narrating the political geographies of eighteenth-century Empire into a discourse of history, placing the historical realities of negotiating Imperial authority at the heart of a nineteenth-century project that fictionalized the possibilities and limits of political historical agency in the modern nation state.
Matthew Carey Salyer is associate professor of English at the United States Military Academy, West Point.