Of the many existing oppressive practices and institutions Edward Rushton (1756-1814) scrutinized and contested in his poetry, naval impressment and transatlantic slavery offer interesting ground for related examination, to the extent that they were discursively connected and equated in contemporary pamphlet literature under a variable agenda, which inevitably entailed probing the parallel and competing categories of class and race. This chapter examines the writing corpus of this long-silenced labouring-class Liverpool writer and radical activist in the light of the contemporary debate on these crucial topics. A complex and challenging poetic voice no less than a fully dedicated human rights campaigner, Rushton produced a single explicit statement on the issue of race, which, on the other hand, often finds perceptive expression in his poetry. Included as the closing text in William Shepherd’s 1824 edition of Rushton’s Poems and Other Writings, the piece of writing entitled An Attempt to Prove that Climate, Food and Manners, Are Not the Causes of the Dissimilarity of Colour in the Human Species engages in the on-going debate, taking sides against contemporary environmentalist theories of human diversity, as exemplified in the work of the French naturalist the Comte de Buffon. Nested within the poet’s critique, a clear defence of human equality emerges, regardless of skin pigmentation: ‘[…] I cannot suppose that mankind are either exalted by their whiteness, or degraded by their receding from this supposed favourite colour of nature […]. Away then with this fancied superiority which the Europeans have vainly arrogated to themselves. Nature knows it not’ [Rushton 1824: 191]. Rushton’s view of one of the most crucial and contentious issues of the age, while confirming his forward-looking ethical vision, is consistent with his insightful awareness of the circumstances of world politics, which he poetically constructs into a world map of oppression from a stance of transnational radicalism that envisions the empowerment of all the wretched of the earth – regardless of class and race.

"'Behold in these Coromantees / The fate of an agonized world': Edward Rushton's transnational radicalism"

DELLAROSA, Franca
2017

Abstract

Of the many existing oppressive practices and institutions Edward Rushton (1756-1814) scrutinized and contested in his poetry, naval impressment and transatlantic slavery offer interesting ground for related examination, to the extent that they were discursively connected and equated in contemporary pamphlet literature under a variable agenda, which inevitably entailed probing the parallel and competing categories of class and race. This chapter examines the writing corpus of this long-silenced labouring-class Liverpool writer and radical activist in the light of the contemporary debate on these crucial topics. A complex and challenging poetic voice no less than a fully dedicated human rights campaigner, Rushton produced a single explicit statement on the issue of race, which, on the other hand, often finds perceptive expression in his poetry. Included as the closing text in William Shepherd’s 1824 edition of Rushton’s Poems and Other Writings, the piece of writing entitled An Attempt to Prove that Climate, Food and Manners, Are Not the Causes of the Dissimilarity of Colour in the Human Species engages in the on-going debate, taking sides against contemporary environmentalist theories of human diversity, as exemplified in the work of the French naturalist the Comte de Buffon. Nested within the poet’s critique, a clear defence of human equality emerges, regardless of skin pigmentation: ‘[…] I cannot suppose that mankind are either exalted by their whiteness, or degraded by their receding from this supposed favourite colour of nature […]. Away then with this fancied superiority which the Europeans have vainly arrogated to themselves. Nature knows it not’ [Rushton 1824: 191]. Rushton’s view of one of the most crucial and contentious issues of the age, while confirming his forward-looking ethical vision, is consistent with his insightful awareness of the circumstances of world politics, which he poetically constructs into a world map of oppression from a stance of transnational radicalism that envisions the empowerment of all the wretched of the earth – regardless of class and race.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11586/190383
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