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Palgrave Macmillan

Familial Feeling

Entangled Tonalities in Early Black Atlantic Writing and the Rise of the British Novel

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  • Open Access
  • © 2021

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  • This book develops an intriguing reassessment of the rise of the British novel framework from an entangled transnational perspective
  • This book examines how both canonical and early Black Atlantic authors partook in shaping the tonality of British middle-class ideals of familial feeling in the shift from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century
  • Familial Feeling brings into conversation the postcolonial study of enslavement and empire, the narratological and aesthetic analysis of the novel form and a queer interest in the politics of emotions

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Table of contents (6 chapters)

  1. 1719–1807: Moral Sentiment and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

  2. 1807–1857: Social Reform and the Rise of the New Imperialism


About this book

This open access book discusses British literature as part of a network of global entangled modernities and shared aesthetic concerns, departing from the retrospective model of a postcolonial “writing back” to the centre. Accordingly, the narrative strategies in the texts of early Black Atlantic authors, like Equiano, Sancho, Wedderburn, and Seacole, and British canonical novelists, such as Defoe, Sterne, Austen, and Dickens, are framed as entangled tonalities. Via their engagement with discourses on slavery, abolition, and imperialism, these texts shaped an understanding of national belonging as a form of familial feeling. This study thus complicates the “rise of the novel” framework and British middle-class identity formation from a transnational perspective combining approaches in narrative studies with postcolonial and queer theory.    


“Familiar Feelings critically reconsiders a variety of well-trod conceptual grounds commonly found in the literary and cultural analyses of the long eighteenth century … . Yekani has produced a marvelous monograph that proves to be in equal measures insightfully, originally, indispensably, and (as befitting her object of inquiry) confoundingly entangled. … Familial Feelings …offer an exemplary illustration of the enormous complexity of such a task in the present.” (Alpen Razi, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 35 (4), 2023)

“Haschemi Yekani’s ‘familial feeling,’ and thus exemplifies how these two monographs – indeed, all four discussed in this review – can profitably be read with and through one another. … Haschemi Yekani’s book is available online via SpringerLink as an ‘open access’ publication. … Much as one might be fond of hard-bound monographs … this mitigation of the economic and geographic barriers to Dickensian and other scholarship is clearly to be welcomed.” (Dominic Rainsford, Dickens Quarterly, Vol. 39 (3), September, 2022)

“Familial Feeling is an essential contribution to the expanding spatiotemporal and generic matrix of how we understand the history of the novel and the repercussions of said history for our memorializations of Black history, writing, and belonging in contemporary Britain.” (Felipe Espinoza Garrido, Journal for the Study of British Cultures, Vol. 29 (1), 2022)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany

    Elahe Haschemi Yekani

About the author

Elahe Haschemi Yekani is Professor of English and American Literature and Culture with a Focus on Postcolonial Studies at the Department of English and American Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.

Bibliographic Information

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