Deference, Devotion, and Antebellum America
“Anglophilia takes a commonsensical subject—nineteenth-century adulation for and emulation of British culture—and shows us both why it doesn’t mean what we thought and why it’s worthy of closer study and more careful attention. This is a rare gem of a book: commandingly scholarly, interdisciplinary, original, arresting in its analyses, and utterly worthwhile in its arguments.”
“Tamarkin’s investigation into the varieties of American Anglophilia in the nineteenth century yields an entirely fresh and at times brightly comic perspective on this period in the nation’s cultural life, and shows that the cultural semiotics of Englishness remains vital in our own time. Her stylistic brilliance—the wit of this study is perfectly calibrated to its erudition—speaks to a real literary sensibility; it underwrites both her extraordinary interpretive skills as a reader of verbal and visual representations, and an exuberant practice of archival research unhampered by foregone conclusions.”
“To make social and personal style—the theatrical play of sociability for its own sake—a matter of historical investigation, to craft in effect a sociology and anthropology of manners, of aesthetic behavior, in four episodes in antebellum American appropriations of Englishness, is a project that calls not only for a scholar of range, authority, and erudition but also a writer of poise, elegant precision, and sprightly wit. Tamarkin is that rare figure endowed with both capacities.”
“Anglophilia demonstrates Herculean research, scholarly precision, a sophisticated critical acumen, and a genuinely unique writer’s voice. Tamarkin’s book accounts for American nationalism while re-attaching it to English history and English culture. It fills, moreover, a kind of cultural historical vacuum, since so much scholarship has focused traditionally on American nationalism, immigration, and nativism, so that the story of a national cultural psychology of aspiring Englishness gets all but lost. Anglophilia provides a consistently nuanced portrait of the simultaneous fantasies of and aversions for the royalist “Old World” that the United States presumably had left behind. It argues convincingly for the symbolic power England wielded on the national cultural imaginary. Those involved in historical literature about the American Revolution will be struck with the genuinely new way Tamarkin goes about reading the cultural politics of historical narrative. Besides the mellifluous ease and brilliant wit of Tamarkin’s prose, the most impressive feature of this book may be its ambidextrous handling of historical artifact and theoretical idea.” —Philip Gould, Brown University
"The author convinces readers that Anglophilia was not a mere matter of social and intellectual snobbery or conservatism. Instead, Americans representing a variety of backgrounds paid their respects 'to the symbolic value of England' as a way of shaping a particularly American democratic identity. Tamarkin astutely suggests that national identity is created by a complex set of practices that not only separate but also welcome, absorb, and adapt selected attributes of other cultures....Highly recommended."