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Autobiographical Writing and British Literature 1783-1834$
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James Treadwell

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199262977

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199262977.001.0001

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Autobiographical transactions

Autobiographical transactions

(p.153) 6 Autobiographical transactions
Autobiographical Writing and British Literature 1783-1834

James Treadwell

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how the theme of the ‘self’ as an autonomous and expressive agent — the ‘Romantic’ self — is produced in texts. A case study of sets of works by Elizabeth Gooch and William Henry Ireland demonstrates that autobiography invokes a self which resists or transcends the transactions in which it is enmeshed. In courtesan autobiographies and slave autobiographies, the rhetorical effects of expressive subjectivity are also set in opposition to the transactions that determine the self and its text. This idea is developed in readings of two of the master-texts of ‘Romantic’ subjectivity, De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater, and Hazlitt's Liber Amoris.

Keywords:   Romanticism, autobiography, subjectivity, De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Hazlitt, Liber Amoris, transactions, courtesan autobiography, slave autobiography

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