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The Romantic Crowd
Sympathy, Controversy and Print Culture


Part of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism

  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107566668

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About the Authors
  • In the long eighteenth century, sympathy was understood not just as an emotional bond, but also as a physiological force, through which disruption in one part of the body produces instantaneous disruption in another. Building on this theory, Romantic writers explored sympathy as a disruptive social phenomenon, which functioned to spread disorder between individuals and even across nations like a 'contagion'. It thus accounted for the instinctive behaviour of people swept up in a crowd. During this era sympathy assumed a controversial political significance, as it came to be associated with both riotous political protest and the diffusion of information through the press. Mary Fairclough reads Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, John Thelwall, William Hazlitt and Thomas De Quincey alongside contemporary political, medical and philosophical discourse. Many of their central questions about crowd behaviour still remain to be answered by the modern discourse of collective psychology.

    • Examines Romantic period accounts of crowds, challenging the traditional view of the solitary Romantic artist
    • Demonstrates how Romantic period debates are still relevant to modern disciplines such as collective psychology
    • Literary and non-literary material is considered side by side; authors discussed include Burke, Wollstonecraft, Godwin, Hazlitt and De Quincey
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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107566668
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: collective sympathy
    Part I. Sympathetic Communication, 1750–1800: From Moral Philosophy to Revolutionary Crowds:
    1. Sympathy and the crowd: eighteenth-century contexts
    2. Sympathetic communication and the French Revolution
    Part II. Romantic Afterlives, 1800–50: Sympathetic Communication, Mass Protest and Print Culture:
    3. Sympathy and the press: mass protest and print culture in Regency England
    4. 'The contagious sympathy of popular and patriotic emotions': sympathy and loyalism after Waterloo
    Afterword: sympathy and the Romantic crowd
    Select bibliography

  • Author

    Mary Fairclough, University of York
    Mary Fairclough is a Lecturer in English Literature at the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies and the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York.

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