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Title:Islam in the English Radical Protestant Imagination, 1660--1830
Author(s):Garcia, Humberto
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Markley, Robert
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Religion, General
Abstract:My dissertation challenges postcolonial accounts that suggest that Islam was depicted as a reactionary and "backward" religion in the long eighteenth century. Building on the work of Nabil Matar, James R. Jacob, Norman O. Brown, and Bernadette Andrea, I argue for the crucial significance of "Mahometanism" in the Radical Enlightenment critique of Church and State, from 1660 to 1830, proposing that English radical Protestant fantasies about "Islamic Republicanism" offered an alternative political vision for writers such as Edmund Burke, Samuel Johnson, William Blake, Walter Savage Landor, Hannah Cowley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, and the Shelleys. These writers, who either rejected or were troubled by the democratic principles promoted by the French Revolution, embraced Islam as a source of political hope in moments of crisis: when notions of liberty, equality, and fraternity turned out to be "false universals" that deprived English men and women of the constitutional-religious rights granted to Anglican citizens. English writers sought to replace the secular ideals of "Western Europe" with a vision of the "Islamic Republic" as an alternative system of secular, democratic values; a resurfacing of an earlier radical Protestant discourse that encodes Islam as the original religion of an egalitarian form of Protestant antitrinitarianism. In their imaginations, the values of "Mahometanism" are more durable and dependable than Lockean notions of liberal individualism and "human rights." And yet, by the turn of the nineteenth century, Burke, Landor, Coleridge, Cowley, and Percy Shelley shunned "Islamic Republicanism" for various reasons: to conform to the standards of a developing conservative ideology, to conceal radical ideas as a cautious way of avoiding draconian censorship restrictions in a reactionary era, to resist any identification between radical politics and the setbacks of the French Revolution, or to search for alternative models of liberty in the Greco-Hellenistic world. Overall, this dissertation reveals the limitations inherent in the secular progressivist narratives through which postcolonial critics continue to read the reception of Islam in eighteenth-century England. As a corrective to this approach, I offer historizied re-readings of the political complexities that inflect the discourse of "Islamic Republicanism.".
Issue Date:2007
Description:366 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3269900
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2007

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