Toleration, Persecution, and the Novel


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines the relationship of the eighteenth-century novel to the religious and political history of toleration in the British Isles, arguing that several developing features of the novel made it an apt forum for discussion and debate of Britain’s difficult history of religious persecution and of the pluralistic reality of its ever-expanding empire. Some novels published in and around the two Jacobite Rebellions, for instance, complicate the conventional understanding of Anglican toleration as one of the great achievements of Whig government and the Enlightenment by presenting it as a relativistic, opportunistic, and, ultimately, self-contradictory doctrine promoting political expediency over freedom of conscience.