Book Chapter

Imperial Commerce, Gender and Slavery


The Oxford History of the Novel in English Volume 2: English and British Fiction 1750-1820 | Oxford University Press | Published : 2015


This chapter explores the twinned emergence in the British novel of a critique of plantation slavery and commercial imperialism with a proto-feminist questioning of the ‘commerce of the sexes’. The discourses of racial and sexual oppression resonate with one another, helping to establish connections between inequalities at home and the sufferings of distant others. It has been argued that novelistic representations of violence and suffering are central to an ‘imagined empathy’ which in turn assisted the development in the eighteenth century of humanitarian sentiment. While it might be charged that the mid-eighteenth-century novel failed to grant full humanity to the enslaved and that it was ..

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University of Melbourne Researchers