Popular Medievalism In Romantic-Era Britain

Hardcover | January 15, 2011

byClare A. Simmons, Clare A Simmons

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Popular Medievalism in Romantic-Era Britain examines ways in which British writers and readers used the idea of the Middle Ages to challenge contemporary political structures and to claim historical national rights at a time when fears that Britain would follow the example of the French Revolution caused the British government to undermine individual and collective rights.  Through the consideration of canonical authors such as Blake, Scott, and Wordsworth and of lesser-studied works such as radical press writings and popular drama, this study suggests that the imaginative appeal to the social structures and literary forms of the Middle Ages served as a powerful means of raising awareness of Britain’s past and the tradition of freedom.

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Popular Medievalism in Romantic-Era Britain examines ways in which British writers and readers used the idea of the Middle Ages to challenge contemporary political structures and to claim historical national rights at a time when fears that Britain would follow the example of the French Revolution caused the British government to under...

Clare A. Simmons is a Professor of English at The Ohio State University.  She is the author of Reversing the Conquest: History and Myth in Nineteenth-Century British Literature; Eyes Across the Channel: French Revolutions, Party History, and British Writing 1830-1882; and numerous essays on nineteenth-century British literature. She i...

other books by Clare A. Simmons

Format:HardcoverDimensions:246 pages, 8.92 × 5.68 × 0.81 inPublished:January 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023010374X

ISBN - 13:9780230103740

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Table of Contents

Rites and Rights: The Topography of Ancient British Law * The National Melody * Medievalism Onstage in the French Revolutionary Era * The Radical Bestiary * Buried Alive: Gothic Reading and Medievalist Subjectivity * Scottish Lawyers, Feudal Law

Editorial Reviews

"Popular Medievalism in the Romantic-Era Britain brings an important perspective to bear on the Romantic rage for the past. Simmons notes that "medievalism," being a Victorian coinage, is usually discussed in the Victorian context and is usually conceived as in Ruskin, where the Romantic "zeitgeisty" notion of the three great "ages" of history takes a cultural and ethical turn to produce "Classicalism, Medievalism, and Modernism" ( 2). By going back to before Victorian medievalism and its obsession with duty, Simmons recovers other more "popular" ways of conceiving medieval period." - The Wordsworth Circle "Popular Medievalism's wide-ranging and meticulous analyses insist on the textuality not just of print sources but of structures, installations, and events. Simmons' uncovering of the connections among such disparate texts makes this a fascinating study. Her demonstration of the reach of populist discourse in the era - deliberate and otherwise - extends the work on Romantic radicalism and responses to it of Marcus Wood and Kevin Gilmartin." - Kristin Samuelian "By investigating the popular medievalism of the Romantic era, Simmons adds an essential and hitherto neglected facet to the continually evolving picture of the reception of medieval culture in postmedieval times. As an important corrective to the widely investigated medievalist reinventions of Romantic and Victorian elites, her study focuses on expressions of medievalism adopted by or accessible to the less privileged classes of British society. Expertly conversant with the longue durée of English responses to the Middle Ages since the beginnings of early modernity, Simmons demonstrates how the increased literacy and interest in political matters among those in skilled occupations as well as those who performed manual labor led to a popular view of a uniquely English continuity between the nation's present and its medieval past." - Richard Utz, Professorand Chair, Department of English, Western Michigan University