The domestic is fundamental to any analysis of Bray’s work, as by domesticating public history and antiquarianism she was able to negotiate a path between maintaining her position as a proper lady and asserting her credentials as a published author/ historian. Historically, Bray’s writing career began at a time when there had been a shift in the basic epistemological structures of history from state politics to social and affective life, family matters. Moreover, Bray’s own family, father, brother and both her husbands were antiquarians, thus her research was presented as an extension of theirs. Finally, in 1822, Bray relocated from London to Devon, a geographical space on the margins of England, and one rich in history, legend and the traditions of ‘Old England’. Yet for Bray, home was a conflicted term representing both family home and homeland, England, which she saw as under threat of losing its identity to the newly created nation of Great Britain and Ireland. In this paper I examine how, through the microcosm of family and region, Bray set about producing an antiquarian record of the English landscape, customs and traditions: an English National Tale. Continue reading →
Amy E. Weldon discusses the emerging animal rights movement of the long eighteenth century and the benefits of didacticism in the emerging genre of children’s literature. Examining the moral tenor of Anna Letitia Barbauld’s ‘The Mouse’s Petition’ and ‘The Caterpillar’ with respect to writing on children and morality by her contemporaries, Mary Wollstonecraft and Alexander Pope, the article charts the dissenting underpinnings of both the anti-slavery and anti-animal cruelty movements. It argues that both the language of sensibility and Christian moral education (which calls for love and mercy) could be effected through literature and taught through the presence of animal characters in Barbauld’s writing. Barbauld’s construction of clemency in the domestic war against animals, whether mice or caterpillars, speaks to the empathy possible on an international scale where widespread clemency could lead to the reconfiguration of existing political orders. Signposting the real problem of animal cruelty in eighteenth-century Britain in entertainments such as horse and bull-baiting, Barbauld’s writing can be seen as a point of intersection between Christian ideology and middle-class moral education. Ultimately, this article argues that the Dissenters’ moral and philosophical beliefs harmonise with the animal rights movement. Continue reading →
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