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Ten Books That Shaped the British Empire: Creating an Imperial Commons

edited by Antoinette Burton and Isabel Hofmeyr

Duke University Press, 2014


Cloth: 978-0-8223-5813-8

eISBN: 978-0-8223-7592-0

OA eISBN: 978-1-4780-9326-8

Paper: 978-0-8223-5827-5

About the Book
Combining insights from imperial studies and transnational book history, this provocative collection opens new vistas on both fields through ten accessible essays, each devoted to a single book. Contributors revisit well-known works associated with the British empire, including Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Thomas Macaulay's History of England, Charles Pearson's National Life and Character, and Robert Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys. They explore anticolonial texts in which authors such as C. L. R. James and Mohandas K. Gandhi chipped away at the foundations of imperial authority, and they introduce books that may be less familiar to students of empire. Taken together, the essays reveal the dynamics of what the editors call an "imperial commons," a lively, empire-wide print culture. They show that neither empire nor book were stable, self-evident constructs. Each helped to legitimize the other.

Contributors. Tony Ballantyne, Elleke Boehmer, Catherine Hall, Isabel Hofmeyr, Aaron Kamugisha, Marilyn Lake, Charlotte Macdonald, Derek Peterson, Mrinalini Sinha, Tridip Suhrud, André du Toit
About the Author
Antoinette Burton is Professor of History and Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has written and edited many books, most recently, The First Anglo-Afghan Wars: A Reader, A Primer for Teaching World History: Ten Design Principles, and Empire in Question: Reading, Writing, and Teaching British Imperialism, all published by Duke University Press.

Isabel Hofmeyr is Professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and Visiting Distinguished Global Professor at New York University. Her prize-winning books include Gandhi's Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading, 'We Spend Our Years as a Tale That is Told': Oral Historical Storytelling in a South African Chiefdom, and The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of The Pilgrim's Progress.
"Ten Books That Shaped the British Empire: Creating an Imperial Commons will prove invaluable to scholars working on imperial print cultures, attempting to think globally in Victorian or American studies, or otherwise seeking to unfield British Empire studies."

-- Kellie D. Holzer History: Reviews of New Books

"Ten Books That Shaped the British Empire . . . sketches an important new nexus for the analysis of print cultures and empires, tracing the ways in which print was embedded in imperial contexts and could inflect those contexts."

-- Robert J. Mayhew Journal of Historical Geography

"Ten Books that Shaped the British Empire works well because the books reviewed in it are diverse in origin, subject, and intention, and because the essays are all of a very high quality; the essays work together to inform and stimulate their readers’ further thinking about the cultural workings of colonization and decolonization. It is a book well worth reading as a whole. Together, it becomes much more than the sum of its many parts."

-- Lisa Chilton Canadian Journal of History

Imperialism, Colonies, South, Historiography, World, Great Britain, Asia, Europe, History
Open Access Information

License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0