By Mary Jean Corbett

Corbett explores fictional and nonfictional representations of Ireland's courting with England in the course of the 19th century. She considers the makes use of of familial and household metaphors in structuring narratives that enact the ''union'' of britain and eire. Corbett situates her readings of novels by means of Edgeworth, Gaskell, and Trollope, and writings through Burke, Engels, and Mill, in the various historic contexts that form them. She revises the serious orthodoxies surrounding colonial discourse that at the moment be successful in Irish and English reports, and provides a clean viewpoint on very important points of Victorian tradition.

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Extra info for Allegories of Union in Irish and English Writing, 1790-1870: Politics, History, and the Family from Edgeworth to Arnold

Sample text

If it be true, that the several bodies, which make up this complicated mass, are to be preserved as one Empire, an authority sufficient to preserve that unity, and by its equal weight and pressure to consolidate the various parts that compose it, must reside somewhere: that somewhere can only be in England . . So that I look upon the residence of the supreme power to be settled here; not by force, or tyranny, or even by mere long usage, but by the very nature of things, and the joint consent of the whole body.

By revisiting that text, as well as Burke’s critique of the penal laws, from a feminist point of view, I aim to demonstrate that a gendered conception of the patriarchal family, and of women’s and men’s roles within it, lies at the heart of Burke’s project for remaking Ireland in an English mold. Burke, Edgeworth, and Ireland in the s  Burke’s quarrel with the French Jacobins in the Reflections arises from their repudiation of the traditional sociopolitical order, their challenge to the venerable institutions that had provided a fiction of continuity over time and an ideological bulwark against change.

As Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall argue, a characteristically middle-class Burke, Edgeworth, and Ireland in the s  ethos came to depend on an articulation of gender and class that redefined the family as an autonomous political, economic, and psychological unit: ‘‘forms of property organization . . ’’⁷ Whereas some historians, following Lawrence Stone, have argued for an historical shift in the function of the family from economic to affective group, Davidoff and Hall illuminate the interrelation of the affective with the economic, pointing out the ways in which bourgeois families consolidated their socioeconomic power through a redefinition of gender roles and practices.

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