Blighted Corn: Radical Agrarian Romanticism


ACLS Fellowship Program




Transatlantic Romanticism is defined by its critique of the economics of agricultural improvement. British, Irish, American, and French Romantics bore witness to, and were radicalized by, the horrors of the tumultuous 1790s, a decade in which improvement first became synonymous with nationalism and patriotism. Subsequent Romantics looked back with nostalgia to times before the lands were transformed by dispossessions and evictions, clear-cutting and scorching, and enclosures. This research explores the rise of the discourse of improvement, its early critique by authors around the Atlantic in the 1790s, and then focuses on three novels that critique improvement in various locations: Trollope’s first Irish novel, Hugo’s Haitian romance, and Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans.