Anglophilia: Deference, Devotion, and Antebellum America by Elisa Tamarkin

By Elisa Tamarkin

Anglophilia charts the phenomenon of the affection of england that emerged after the Revolution and continues to be within the personality of U.S. society and sophistication, the fashion of educational existence, and the assumption of yank intellectualism. yet as Tamarkin exhibits, this Anglophilia was once greater than simply an elite nostalgia; it was once renowned devotion that made reverence for British culture instrumental to the mental concepts of democracy. Anglophilia spoke to fantasies of cultural belonging, well mannered sociability, and, eventually, deference itself as an affective perform inside egalitarian politics. Tamarkin lines the wide-ranging results of anglophilia on American literature, artwork and highbrow lifestyles within the early 19th century, in addition to its impact in arguments opposed to slavery, within the politics of Union, and within the dialectics of liberty and loyalty ahead of the civil battle. through operating past narratives of British impression, Tamarkin highlights a extra difficult tradition of yankee reaction, one who integrated Whig elites, students, radical democrats, city immigrants, and African american citizens. eventually, Anglophila argues that that the affection of england used to be no longer easily a fetish or kind of shame-a unlock from the burdens of yank culture-but an anachronistic constitution of attachement within which U.S. id used to be lived in different languages of nationwide expression.

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It is finally the participatory suchness of these displays that renders the Anglophilia symptomatically American; thus the Boston Evening Transcript makes much of “the spontaneous ovation which the citizens of Boston have given Renfrew,” and the Her- monarch-love 13 ald, with improbable chauvinism, sets America’s expressive devotions against Canada’s obligatory “respects”: The receptions here differed from those in Canada, also, not less in the part played by the prince than in that played by the people.

Their style lent itself well to the humanities and literary study, where the goal of instruction was not to explain a text systematically but to demonstrate by anecdote and example how the experience of reading was subject to (and reflective of) contingency and feeling. The influence of this specific form of literary intellectualism continues to resonate in contemporary debates about the role of the humanities in the modern university; and while less strenuously challenged in the nineteenth century, it was still the case that faculty and students were forced to defend those styles of knowledge most associated with the liberal arts and the social values they implied.

The period gave us the first yearbooks, college reunions, college songs, and college novels. Commencement and other annual rituals took on new status as ceremonial performances of college feeling toward alma mater— all of which also served to distinguish a “Harvard man” or a “Princetonian” by reminding students that they owed their identities to the local culture of their respective colleges. From the broader anthropology of these identities, we discover how the social rituals made it possible for college in America to function as an institution of social identity in the first place; for the expectation that college life should have a distinctive character at all is a lasting consequence of this period.

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