Romanticism and Empire
ENG 4668H, Fall 2005
Monday 3:00-5:00, Room 2000, 7 King’s College Circle

Professor: Dan White
St. George 2215 7 KCC; UTM 296A NB
Office Hours: St. George, Monday 5:00-6:00; UTM, Wednesday 4:00-5:00


Course Focus: British Romanticism can and should be understood as a global culture of imperial expansion, mobility, and exchange. In this course we will focus upon the early empire in India and the transatlantic slave trade. Furthermore, we will address the ways in which these two spheres of exchange and domination returned to and reshaped the metropole. Between 1770 and 1820, British traders, administrators, travelers, missionaries, painters, and writers experienced and represented the early, unstable, and uncertain formation of an empire, sometimes in the service of an imperial agenda, sometimes in their sympathetic attempts to understand alien worlds and people, and sometimes in the complex convergence of these two perspectives. In turn, “oriental” and African writers such as Sake Deen Mahomed, Abu Talib Khan, Ottobah Cugoano, and Olaudah Equiano themselves entered into and described scenes of transculturation and conflict. In order to study the various transformations produced by imperial encounters between minds, bodies, languages, natures, economies, and religions, we will range across canonical and noncanonical poetry, prose, and drama, abolitionist and proslavery writings, narratives of exploration, the publications of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and paintings of Indian landscapes. We will challenge and direct our studies by supplementing our primary readings with theoretical and critical works on race, orientalism, and colonialism.

Method of Evaluation: Class participation (15%), in-class research presentation (10%), abstract (10%, 500 words), conference presentation (15%, 10 minutes followed by q & a), research paper (50%, 20 pp.).

Texts: The following texts are available for purchase at the Campus Book Store.

Available from Krishna Copy (180 Bloor West) are two coursepacks, “Primary” and “Secondary” Readings, containing those primary readings marked “[CP]” and all secondary readings (bulleted below), respectively. I have also put all of these materials on reserve at Robarts Short Term Loan, should you wish to do your own photocopying instead.

Monday, September 12


Thomas Kitchin, “A Map of the European Settlements in the West Indies,” from Guillaume Raynal, A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies (1776)

James Rennell, “A General View of the principal Roads and Divisions of Hindoostan,” from Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan (1788)

Map, “The World (Mercator),” from The World-Wide Atlas of Modern Geography (1899)

Monday, September 19

Edward Long, from The History of Jamaica (1774) [CP]

Bryan Edwards, from The History, Civil and Commercial, of The British Colonies in the West Indies (1793) [CP]

Mungo Park, from Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa (1799) [CP]

  • Mary Louise Pratt, “Introduction: Criticism in the contact zone” and “Anti-conquest II: The mystique of reciprocity,” in Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation

Don’t forget to email your top four choices of presentation dates!

Monday, September 26

Quobna Ottabah Cugoano, from Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species (1787)

Olaudah Equiano, from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (1789)

Anna Letitia Barbauld, “Epistle to William Wilberforce, Esq. on the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade” (1792) and Eighteen Hundred and Eleven (1812)

  • Paul Gilroy, “The Black Atlantic as a Counterculture of Modernity,” in The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness

Monday, October 3

Richard Cumberland, The West Indian: A Comedy (1771) [CP]

  • Jeffrey N. Cox, Introduction to Slavery, Abolition and Emancipation: Writings in the British Romantic Period, vol. 5 (Drama)

Monday, October 10


Monday, October 17

Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, from A Code of Gentoo Laws (1776) [CP]

William Jones, “A Discourse on the Institution of a Society, for Inquiring into the History, Civil and Natural, the Antiquities, Arts, Sciences, and Literature, of Asia” (1784), “The Second Anniversary Discourse, Delivered 24th February, 1785,” and “The Preface” to Institutes of Hindu Law; or the Ordinances of Menu (1794) [CP]

Edmund Burke, from Speeches on the Opening of the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, 15 and 16 February 1788 [CP]

Samuel Foote, The Nabob; a Comedy (1778) [CP]

  • Edward Said, “Introduction,” from Orientalism

  • Dennis Porter, “Orientalism and its Problems,” in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader

Monday, October 24: Guest Seminar Member, Professor Daniel J. O’Quinn (University of Guelph)

Sake Deen Mahomed, from The Travels of Dean Mahomet, a Native of Patna in Bengal, through Several Parts of India, while in the Service of the Honourable The East India Company (1794) [CP]

Mirza Abu Taleb Khan, from Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan (1810) [CP]

Thomas and William Daniell, aquatints from Oriental Scenery (1795-1808), Antiquities of India (1799-1808), and Twenty Four Landscapes. Views in Hindostan (1807)

  • Daniel J. O’Quinn, “The Differential Mirror of Fashion: Mirza Abu Talib Khan and the Erotics of Empire” [forthcoming; to be distributed by email]

Monday, October 31

Elizabeth Hamilton, Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah (1796)

  • Siraj Ahmed, “‘The Pure Soil of Universal Benevolence’: The Rule of Property and the Rise of an Imperial Ideology in the 1790s,” in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

Monday, November 7

Sydney Owenson, The Missionary (1811)

  • Balachandra Rajan, “Feminizing the Feminine: Early Women Writers on India,” in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780-1834

Monday, November 14

Robert Southey, The Curse of Kehama (1810) [CP]

  • Javed Majeed, “Robert Southey and the Oriental Renaissance,” in Ungoverned Imaginings: James Mill’s The History of British India and Orientalism

Abstracts due (except for those who will present on Southey or Shelley)

Monday, November 21

P.B. Shelley, Alastor (1816) and “A Philosophical View of Reform” (1820) [CP]

  • Saree Makdisi, “Versions of the East: Byron, Shelley and the Orient,” in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780-1834

Abstracts due (for those who will present on Southey or Shelley)

Monday, November 28: Mini-Conference

Session 1

Monday, December 5: Mini-Conference

Session 2

Wednesday, December 14, Research Papers Due in English Office by Noon


Daniel E. White