Romantic British Citizenship and the Transatlantic World
Cotti-Lowell, Alison. “Romantic British Citizenship and the Transatlantic World”, Boston College, 2021. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:109194.
The Romantic period encompasses a pivotal set of decades for the development of British citizenship, a fact that has been underemphasized due to narrow definitions of what citizenship entails. Within the wide discursive arena of national identity in Romantic fiction, however, specific literary tropes and figures emerge that consolidate and challenge the nascent and evolving concept of the British citizen. The figure of the wanderer or stateless being explores a mode of national belonging that is increasingly untethered to land and nativity; tropes of the virtual and disembodiment become central to articulations of political and bureaucratic citizenship in the American revolutionary context; struggles between dependence and independence in sentimental plots of courtship and marriage narrate the citizenly potential of women in the context of couverture; and portrayals of repatriation and exile illuminate how Britain was coming to terms with its population of color in the early post-abolition era. Taken together, the literary texts under discussion here intervene in the emergence of a ‘Romantic’ citizenship discourse in the English-speaking North Atlantic World.