seminar: CANCELLED - Dr Ed Holberton (Bristol) 'Law, Liberty and Lyric in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic: Martha Fowke Sansom’s Poetry in The Barbados Gazette’
A joint event with the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies.
Presentation, discussion, refreshments. All are welcome.
This paper addresses the relationship between literature, law and imperial identity in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. It looks at the reception of writing from this period in The Barbados Gazette, in the context of an empire-wide dialectic of legal convergence and divergence. The divergence became particularly acute in early modern Barbados, where a parallel legal system developed to enforce the ‘large integrated plantation’ model of enslaved labour on the island’s sugar plantations. At the same time, especially following the 1688 revolution, the idea of a Panatlantic system of law and liberty became important to English and British imperial identity. The poetry printed in the Barbados Gazette becomes part of the argument that metropolis and colony share the same legal culture, despite their manifest divergence: I look especially at how the amatory lyrics of Martha Fowke Sansom, originally written to an inns of court lawyer, and full of legal language, were published, discussed and reframed by the editor of the Barbados Gazette, the island’s Attorney-General, and interwoven with essays on legal topics, including enslavement. In their colonial reception, these poems are transformed into vehicles of transatlantic sociability, and help to align the legal cultures of metropolis and colony.