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Deference, Devotion, and Antebellum America

Anglophilia charts the phenomenon of the love of Britain that emerged after the Revolution and remains in the character of U.S. society and class, the style of academic life, and the idea of American intellectualism. But as Tamarkin shows, this Anglophilia was more than just an elite nostalgia; it was popular devotion that made reverence for British tradition instrumental to the psychological innovations of democracy. Anglophilia spoke to fantasies of cultural belonging, polite sociability, and, finally, deference itself as an affective practice within egalitarian politics.
Tamarkin traces the wide-ranging effects of anglophilia on American literature, art and intellectual life in the early nineteenth century, as well as its influence in arguments against slavery, in the politics of Union, and in the dialectics of liberty and loyalty before the civil war. By working beyond narratives of British influence, Tamarkin highlights a more intricate culture of American response, one that included Whig elites, college students, radical democrats, urban immigrants, and African Americans. Ultimately, Anglophila argues that that the love of Britain was not simply a fetish or form of shame-a release from the burdens of American culture-but an anachronistic structure of attachement in which U.S. Identity was lived in other languages of national expression.

384 pages | 38 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2008

History: American History

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature


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.”

Dana Nelson, Vanderbilt University

“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.”

Nancy Ruttenburg, New York University

“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.”

Ross Posnock, Columbia University

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

Philip Gould

"Anglophilia is in every respect a model of scholarship. The book’s argument is original, persuasive, engaging, and frequently comic . . . the prose, both erudite and readable. . . .Anyone who has ever wondered, for instance, why Americans still gawk so lovingly at Buckingham Palace . . . will admire this compelling work of scholarship."

Brian Cowlishaw | Southwest Journal of Cultures

"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."


"By bringing together a number of well-known subjectss in a creative way, Tamarkin provides readers with a fresh look at the complex relationship that evolved between the United States and England in the years after the American Revolution."

Virginia Quarterly Review

"This pathbreaking work of cultural and social history offers a reconsideration of ways in which Old World symbols and practices were used to shape a post-Revolutionary democratic culture. . . . An impressive contribution to nineteenth-century transatlantic studies."

Tom F. Wright | Journal of British Studies

"This book is vulpine regarding its sources, which range across a variety of genres, from paintings to student journals...Tamarkin eschews narrative in favor of something more like musical form. She begins each chapter with a painting, narrative, or incident, which she then analyzes in sometimes dazzling detail, deriving from it a theme that she then illustrates repeatedly through other examples...Historians will find much here of interest."

Peter W. Williams | The Journal of American History

Table of Contents

Preface: Paying Respects

Chapter One: Monarch-Love; or, How the Prince of Wales Saved the Union
   “E Pluribus Unum, or in English, Welcome to the Prince”
   Anachronism and Style (More Twaddle about the Queen)
   Sovereigns, Substitutes, and Emptiness
   The Renewal and Uses of Filial Piety
   Hawthorne’s Mystic Threads
Chapter Two: Imperial Nostalgia: American Elegies for British Empire
   The Dullness of Patriotism
   A Case of Surrender
   Delicacies of War
   The Elegiac Return to Dependence
   Empire of Beauty
   Loyal Archives and the Reluctance to Rebel
   Women Folks Are Natural Tories: Love in the Age of Revolution

Chapter Three: Freedom and Deference: Society, Antislavery, and Black Intellectualism
   The Importance of Being English
   Caste and Conduct
   The Chivalry of Antislavery
   The Sociability of Antislavery (and Diversions of Reform)
   Black Anglo-Saxonism

Chapter Four: The Anglophile Academy
   Harvard Indifference: The Social Life of College
   The Sincerity of Dilettantes
   The English Accent
   Pomp and Circumstance; or, How to Be a Chum
   Coda: Education and Nostalgia


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