Faculty Bookshelf: Philip Gould

Writing the Rebellion: Loyalists and the Literature of Politics in British America

Philip Gould


 Writing the Rebellion presents a cultural history of loyalist writing in early America. There has been a spate of related works recently, but Philip Gould's narrative offers a completely different view of the loyalist/patriot contentions than appears in any of these accounts. By focusing on the literary projections of the loyalist cause, Gould dissolves the old legend that loyalists were more British than American, and patriots the embodiment of a new sensibility drawn from their American situation and upbringing. He shows that both sides claimed to be heritors of British civil discourse, Old World learning, and the genius of English culture. The first half of Writing Rebellion deals with the ways "political disputation spilled into arguments about style, form, and aesthetics, as though these subjects could secure (or ruin) the very status of political authorship." Chapters in this section illustrate how loyalists attack patriot rhetoric by invoking British satires of an inflated Whig style by Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift. Another chapter turns to Loyalist critiques of Congressional language and especially the Continental Association, which was responsible for radical and increasingly violent measures against the Loyalists. The second half of Gould's book looks at satiric adaptations of the ancient ballad tradition to see what happens when patriots and loyalists interpret and adapt the same text (or texts) for distinctive yet related purposes. The last two chapters look at the Loyalist response to Thomas Paine's Common Sense and the ways the concept of the author became defined in early America. Throughout the manuscript, Gould acknowledges the purchase English literary culture continued to have in revolutionary America, even among revolutionaries.

Review

"Writing Rebellion presents a methodologically rich approach to Loyalist writings that have fallen through the cracks of national literary histories. Much more than a recovery effort, Gould's important book reveals the dynamic relation between literary forms and Revolutionary conflict and shows how Loyalist aesthetics continue to resonate in liberal political theory." --Sandra Gustafson, author of Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic 

 
"Writing the Rebellion refocuses attention on the losers of the American Revolution--and on the experience of loss itself. Gould's Loyalists dissented from critical categories we now invoke to evaluate American political literature. Severing virtue from politics, suspicious of the seductions of language, Loyalists did not believe there was an American 'public' in revolutionary America. By carefully recovering their intellectual world, Gould gives us a timely reminder of the history of a divided country." --Eric Slauter, author of The State as a Work of Art: The Cultural Origins of the Constitution

ISBN: 978-0199967896