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Oracles of Empire: Poetry, Politics, and Commerce in British America, 1690-1750
by David S. Shields
University of Chicago Press, 1990
eISBN: 978-0-226-75299-0 | Cloth: 978-0-226-75298-3
Library of Congress Classification PS312.S5 1990
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.109358

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
This innovative look at previously neglected poetry in British America represents a major contribution to our understanding of early American culture. Spanning the period from the Glorious Revolution (1690) to the end of King George's War (1750), this study critically reconstitutes the literature of empire in the thirteen colonies, Canada, and the West Indies by investigating over 300 texts in mixed print and manuscript sources, including poems in pamphlets and newspapers.

British America's poetry of empire was dominated by three issues: mercantilism's promise that civilization and wealth would be transmitted from London to the provinces; the debate over the extent of metropolitan prerogatives in law and commerce when they obtruded upon provincial rights and interests; and the argument that Britain's imperium pelagi was an ethical empire, because it depended upon the morality of trade, while the empires of Spain and France were immoral empires because they were grounded upon conquest. In discussing these issues, Shields provides a virtual anthology of poems long lost to students of American literature.

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