Romantic Literature, Race, and Colonial Encounter

Romantic Literature, Race, and Colonial Encounter


SKU: 9781403976451


In a fresh investigation of primary sources and original readings, Kitson traces the origins of contemporary  ideas about race though a variety of  late eighteenth and early nineteenth century literary texts by Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, De Quincey, and other published and unpublished writings about travel and exploration and natural history.

Romantic Literature, Race, and Colonial Encounter is a study of the origin, growth, and development of “the race idea” and its impact on the writing of the Romantic period. It discusses how race as a concept became increasingly important in defining difference and identity in Romantic period culture. Subjects including slavery, natural history, comparative anatomy, missionary, diplomatic, and travel writing are explored and texts by Coleridge, De Quincey, Mary Shelley, Byron, Equiano, and others are situated in the complex and shifting discourse of Romantic theories of race. In particular, Romantic representations of China and the “Far East” are discussed as a key site where the period’s changing attitudes to human difference and variety were especially prominent.

Peter J. Kitson is Professor of English at the University of Dundee. He is the author (with Tim Fulford and Debbie Lee) of Literature, Science and Exploration: Bodies of Knowledge (2004); the editor (with Tim Fulford) of the eight volume editions, Travels, Explorations and Empires, 1770-1830 (2001-3); and (with Debbie Lee) of the eight volume edition of Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation: Writings from the British Romantic Period (1999). Kitson has served as the Chair of the English Association and is the current President (2007-2010). He is also the President of the British Association for Romantic Studies.

“Kitson’s brilliant new study shows how Romantic period literature and culture invented and absorbed the ‘race idea’ that proved crucial to later constructions of identity. Based on extensive archival investigations Romantic Literature, Race, and Colonial Encounter is an outstanding contribution to current understandings of Romantic science, colonialism, slavery, S. T. Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey and Mary Shelley. In particular, this study breaks new ground in its discussion of Romantic representations of China and the Far East. It will be welcomed by Romanticists, and more widely by scholars and students of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”–Nicholas Roe, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

“Kitson’s Romantic Litearture, Race, and Colonial Encounter is a deeply learned and highly engaging study.  Kitson contributes many compellingly original insights to the scholarship published in recent decades concerning the role played by ‘race’ . . . by examining and accounting for the complexities informing the various ‘languages of racism’ that were current in Enlightenment and Romantic thought.  Romantic Literature, Race, and Colonial Encounter is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand how Eurocentric concepts of human difference derived from Romantic-era theology, philosophy, anthropology, and science eventually led or gave way to the full-fledged, biologically essentialist notions of difference in Victorian and modern racial thought.”–Thw Wordsworth Circle

Race and Romanticism the Current Debate * The Race Idea * Romantic Anatomies of Race * Romantic Cannibalism * Eating People in the South Seas * Slavery: Abolitionist Writing * Romantic Sinopolitans: Travellers, Diplomats and Khans * Tartars, Mongols, Manchus and Chinese

Additional information

Weight 1 oz
Dimensions 1 × 6 × 9 in