Intellectual formations in the Romantic period: a comparative study of cultural politics and social criticism in the British public sphere, 1802-32.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis examines rival intellectual practices in the early nineteenth century through the theoretical framework of the Habermasian public sphere. Comparing the work of post-Scottish Enlightenment critics such as Francis Jeffrey, Henry Brougham and Thomas Carlyle, and their English radical plebeian counterparts, William Cobbett, T.J. Wooler and Thomas Spence, the thesis examines the bases of two divergent strategies of cultural resistance to the social crises of industrialism. By highlighting the ways in which a central literary genre like periodical social criticism was materially constructed out of distinctive modes of intellectual sociability, we can rethink the comparative political efficacy of rival idealist and materialist forms of intellectual praxis during a crucial transitional period. The argument serves as a corrective to the canonical studies of the 'big six' of English Romanticism by foregrounding cultural narratives occluded in traditional Romanticist scholarship: the underappreciated contribution made to Romantic period cultural history by marginalized national traditions, generic forms, and intellectual practices.
Reflecting the ideological complexity of these competing critical discourses and cultural narratives, and recognizing the value of a multi-perspectival approach, the dissertation is divided into two sections. The first offers a theoretical and historical overview of the British public sphere, while the second engages through a series of discrete readings with the texts of the critics themselves.
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