Unnavigable kinship in time of conflict: Loyalist calligraphies, sovereign power and the 'muckle honor' of Elizabeth Murray Inman

Watts, Carol (2014) Unnavigable kinship in time of conflict: Loyalist calligraphies, sovereign power and the 'muckle honor' of Elizabeth Murray Inman. In: Ashe, Laura and Patterson, Ian (eds.) War and Literature. Essays and Studies, 67 . Boydell and Brewer, Cambridge, pp. 139-161. ISBN 9781843843818

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Abstract

[A] dark wall of rule supports the structure of every letter, record, transcript: every proof of authority and power. I know records are compiled by winners, and scholarship is in collusion with Civil Government. I know this and go searching for some trace of love's infolding through all the paper in all the libraries I come to.

The Contest is not between Ministers and the Colonies, but between Parliament and the Colonies; and whichever of them conquers will be Sovereign Power.

Exploring the records of loyalist refugees during the American revolutionary war, I have wanted to understand their diverse forms of attachment to sovereign power, its insistence in lives often torn apart by conflict. It was a revolution experienced by many as a civil war, in which colonial Americans and their British kin discovered themselves internally divided, a felt set of betrayals and desires separating one from another, ‘Bone of our Bone’ in John Adams’ words. This was a war, as Dror Wahrman puts it, ‘irreducible to any reliable map of “us” and “them” based on a stable criterion of difference’, and it rebounded in America on every aspect of daily living, bonds and everyday certainties suddenly opened to urgent question. What did it mean to be ‘loyal’, and to whom, at the very point when the terms of sovereignty were being transformed and divided into winners and losers? In what sense was loyalism irreducible to the ‘command expressions’ that would come to name it as history?

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: American loyalists, Susan Howe, textual practice, writing
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Depositing User: Carol Watts
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2018 15:42
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2019 16:07
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/78057
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