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Sounding Imperial

Poetic Voice and the Politics of Empire, 1730–1820

James Mulholland

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Spoken words come alive in written verse.

In Sounding Imperial, James Mulholland offers a new assessment of the origins, evolution, and importance of poetic voice in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By examining a series of literary experiments in which authors imitated oral voices and impersonated foreign speakers, Mulholland uncovers an innovative global aesthetics of poetic voice that arose as authors invented new ways of crafting textual voices and appealing to readers. As poets drew on cultural forms from around Great Britain and across the globe, impersonating "primitive"…

Spoken words come alive in written verse.

In Sounding Imperial, James Mulholland offers a new assessment of the origins, evolution, and importance of poetic voice in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By examining a series of literary experiments in which authors imitated oral voices and impersonated foreign speakers, Mulholland uncovers an innovative global aesthetics of poetic voice that arose as authors invented new ways of crafting textual voices and appealing to readers. As poets drew on cultural forms from around Great Britain and across the globe, impersonating "primitive" speakers and reviving ancient oral performances (or fictionalizing them in verse), they invigorated English poetry.

Mulholland situates these experiments with oral voices and foreign speakers within the wider context of British nationalism at home and colonial expansion overseas. Sounding Imperial traces this global aesthetic by reading texts from canonical authors like Thomas Gray, James Macpherson, and Felicia Hemans together with lesser-known writers, like Welsh antiquarians, Anglo-Indian poets of colonialism, and impersonators of Pacific islanders. The frenetic borrowing, movement, and adaptation of verse of this time offers a powerful analytic by which scholars can understand anew poetry’s role in the formation of national culture and the exercise of colonial power.

Sounding Imperial offers a more nuanced sense of poetry’s unseen role in larger historical processes, emphasizing not just appropriation or collusion but the murky middle range in which most British authors operated during their colonial encounters and the voices that they used to make those cross-cultural encounters seem vivid and alive.

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Sounding Imperial

James Mulholland

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Reviews

Reviews

This is an excellent book, and one that will appeal not just to lovers of poetry but to historians of the Empire and sociologists who study trans-national influences.

Sounding Imperial is a very readable book. It will be mainly of interest to students and scholars of English literature and history.

James Mulholland has produced an important new study of eighteenth-century British poetry...

James Mulholland's Sounding Imperial: Poetic Voice and the Politics of Empire, 1730–1820 brings the context of British imperialism to Romantic-era poetics, illuminating the concerns of orientalism within the history of print culture.

What Sounding Imperial tells us about colonialism and culture is that we need to look again at their relationship with fresh eyes.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
232
ISBN
9781421408545
Illustration Description
17 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Global Aesthetics of Poetic Voice
1. Thomas Gray, Virtual Authorship, and the Performed Voice
Authoring Gray's "Elegy"
Performing Gray's "Elegy"
Imper

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Global Aesthetics of Poetic Voice
1. Thomas Gray, Virtual Authorship, and the Performed Voice
Authoring Gray's "Elegy"
Performing Gray's "Elegy"
Impersonating the Bard?
Wildness and Welsh Prosody
Quotation Marks
(Un)Editing the Bards
2. Wales, Public Poetry, and the Politics of Collective Voice
Bardic Nationalism Reconsidered
The Aboriginal Aesthetics of Iolo Morganwg
Listening to the Welsh Past
Dead Voices Reanimated
3. Scotland and the Invention of Voice
Primitive Passions, Poetry Addiction, History
Ambiguous Speech
Writing, Re- performance, and Restored Voices
Intimate Hailing
Ossian's Afterlife
4. Impersonating Native Voices in Anglo- Indian Poetry
William Jones and the Fountainhead of Verse
Making the Subaltern Speak
Rewriting Gray's "The Bard" in India
Dislocated Orientalism
Coda: Reading the Archive of the Inauthentic
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio