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Abstract

Historians have documented the rise of English nationalism in the eighteenth century. Two eighteenth-century authors, Sophia Lee and Samuel Jackson Pratt, turn to the Gothic as a specific way in which to explore what gets left out and left behind during the rise of nationalism. Lee's Gothic novel The Recess tells the counterfactual story of the two secret daughters of Mary, Queen of Scots, in a way that imagines alternatives to the aggressive nationalism that her fictional Elizabeth comes to represent. Lee's lingering on the extreme suffering of her heroines aligns her novel aesthetically with other artists and writers who challenged imperial expansion through an emphasis on the anguish obscured by other aesthetic choices. A fan of Gothic fiction and a Gothic novelist himself, Pratt offers a farcical version of similar dynamics through the juxtaposition of Gothic tropes with colonial slavery. In his play The New Cosmetic, an ointment holds the promise of changing skin colour, but only after excruciating pain.

Contributor's Note

Laura J. Rosenthal is a professor of English at University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of Infamous Commerce: Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture (2006) and editor of Nightwalkers: Prostitute Narratives from the Eigh­teenth Century (2008). Her current project is on theatre and cosmopolitanism in the Restoration and eighteenth century.

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