History, Literature, Cultural Studies
The quarterly Atlantic Studies provides an international forum for research and debate on historical, cultural and literary issues within the Atlantic world. Published on behalf of MESEA (The Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas) , the journal challenges nationalist historiographies and literatures by focusing on the Atlantic as an area of cultural change and exchange, translation and interference, communication and passages.
Atlantic Studies welcomes submissions in the areas of cultural studies, history, geography, critical theory, and literature.
September 2011, Vol. 8, No. 3
''What Town's this Boy?'': English civic politics, Virginia's urban debate, and Aphra Behn's The Widow Ranter
This essay explores Aphra Behn's play The Widow Ranter as evidence for a transatlantic discussion about urban political culture in the later seventeenth century. The play, written in 1688, is a heavily fictionalised dramatisation of a rebellion that had gripped the English colony of Virginia 12 years earlier. The rebel leader, Nathaniel Bacon, had burned down the colony's only city, Jamestown, and Behn's retelling of the story pays particular attention to this urban inferno. The historical Bacon's arson can be understood as a product of a longstanding dispute between ordinary Virginia settlers and the colony's governor over the particular ways in which town development was being pursued. But this colonial dispute was rooted in the contested nature of urban life in contemporary England, where the charter rights and freedoms of towns and cities were being challenged by royal efforts to consolidate control over the realm. This English conflict led to the circulation around the Atlantic world of contradictory definitions of the ideal political and social constitution for a town. This essay argues that Behn, a staunch royalist, recognised these strands at work in the events in Virginia. She dramatised the rebellion as a conflict between Bacon, the legitimate cavalier patriarch of Jamestown, and corrupt urban authorities. In this way, Behn used the government, social sphere, and eventual conflagration of Jamestown to comment on the status of the urban debate in England. The Widow Ranter, therefore, is not simply an English vision of the exotic colonial world but part of a circum-Atlantic debate over urban political culture in an era of expanding state and imperial control.
''She must go overboard & shall go overboard'': Diseased bodies and the spectacle of murder at sea
The Atlantic slave trade represents the largest forced migration of humans in recorded history. Using an anonymous black woman as a critical point of entry into the slave ship experience, this essay explores the spatial hierarchies of trauma in the middle passage and assesses the material, psychological, and emotional context of death aboard an eighteenth-century slave ship. This study, moreover, considers the process by which enslaved people were commodified both in life and in death, how ship captains treated disease outbreaks, and the context in which an infectious risk was calculated. The article furthermore highlights the process of enslavement, disease, terror, and ultimate death within the broader history of New World slavery. In so doing, it furthers scholarly approaches to the Atlantic slave trade, middle passage studies, gender and slavery, as well as the medical history of slavery.
When Parisian liberals spoke for Haiti: French anti-slavery discourses on Haiti under the Restoration, 1814-30
This article examines French anti-slavery discourses on Haiti during the Restoration. Integrating anti-slavery struggle into the political contestation between ultra-royalists and liberals during the Restoration, this project investigates how the political imperative of oppositional liberals influenced their antislavery politics and induced them to vindicate Haiti. This article focuses on three questions about the role of Haiti in anti-slavery discourses. First, in what terms did the French abolitionists try to measure and advertise the results of this first abolition of slavery? Second, what does their championing of the perfectibility of Africans tell us about their ideas of race and color? And third, how did the birth of Haiti challenge the old colonial order and generate new ideas about the future of the French Empire? This article argues that those anti-slavery discourses vindicating Haiti were deeply ambivalent. Critiques of slavery, color prejudice, and colonialism were entangled with the assumptions of colonial discourses. They were also dominated by notions of the progress of history in which France occupied a privileged place by virtue of its superior civilization and Revolution.
Rites of passage: The coffin ship as a site of immigrants' identity formation in Irish and Irish American fiction, 1855-85
The statue of Annie Moore and her brothers in Cobh, Ireland, is one of the many lieux de me´moire which seek to crystallise the recollections of the Irish exodus to North America between 1845 and 1900. Scholars have examined the monuments erected to commemorate the massive exodus of 1.8 million Irish to Canada and the United States. Hitherto, however, very little attention has been paid to a transatlantic corpus of fiction, mainly written by the so-called ''Famine generation,'' which recollects the conditions of Irish immigrants to the New World. These novels and stories, by Irish writers at home who witnessed the outflux of population as well as authors who had migrated themselves to escape starvation and poverty, not only describe their migrant characters' conditions of departure from the homeland and settlement in North American communities. An equally central role is reserved for the transition from home to diaspora, on-board the so-called ''coffin ships.'' While the texts remember the fearful realities of poor hygiene and high mortality rates on-board, the voyage also has a symbolic function, featuring as a rite of passage for the characters and their sense of ethnic identity. This article discusses several examples of the iconic image of the coffin ship in Irish and Irish American fiction on immigration, written between 1855 and 1885. In these texts, the storms that the immigrant characters have to endure during their passage at sea prefigure the trials the characters will face in the urban New World. Moreover, the coffin ships represent microcosmic Irish ''imagined communities'' that function as utopian heterotopia where the cultural clashes experienced in the homeland and the pending assimilation in the New World have to be negotiated.
Of Sartre, race, and rabies: ''Anti-Americanism'' and the transatlantic politics of intellectual engagement
Jean-Paul Sartre has been called ''the most prominent anti-American'' in France, and his critiques of US society and foreign policy have been attributed to his ingrained anti-Americanism. This article questions the utility of this concept in understanding Sartre's political engagements, for he does not fit into standard definitions of anti-Americanism that emphasize special hostility and general resentment toward the United States. Instead, Sartre's writings about the United States reveal an enthusiastic embrace of contemporary American culture, while his sharpest critiques focused on two issues that were lifelong concerns of his, regardless of national context: racial discrimination and the arbitrary exercise of power. Despite his period of fellow traveling that made him sympathetic to the Soviet Union in the early 1950s, Sartre's political biography shows that he was much more interested in the deficiencies of French society and foreign policy than he was in America's failings. The article concludes that Sartre can be better understood as a member of a multiracial, transatlantic community of engaged intellectuals who struggled, and sometimes failed, to find an activist Marxism that was compatible with individual integrity.
Review Essay: Beyond the Emerald Isle: Studying the Irish Atlantic
The Black and Green Atlantic: Cross-Currents of the African and Irish Diasporas (2009), edited b
Other IssuesMarch 2011, Volume 8, Number 1
June 2011, Volume 8, Number 2
Special issue, Itineraries of Atlantic science - new questions, new approaches, new directions, Vol. 7, No. 4
September 2010, Vol. 7, No. 3
June 2010, Vol. 7, No. 2
March 2010, Volume 7, Number 1
December 2009, Volume 6, Number 3
August 2009, Volume 6, Number 2
April 2009, Volume 6, Number 1
December 2008, Vol. 5, No. 3
August 2008, Vol. 5, No. 2
October 2007, Vol. 4, No. 2
April 2007 , Vol. 4, No. 1
October 2006 , Vol. 3, No. 2
April 2006, Vol. 3, No. 1
October 2005, Vol. 2, No. 2
April 2005, Vol. 2, No. 1
April 2005, Vol. 2, No. 1
October 2004, Vol. 1, No. 2
April 2004, Vol. 1, No. 1