Anna Letitia Barbauld: Selected Poetry and Prose

Anna Barbauld's "Eighteen Hundred and Eleven"

Divisions within Barbauld’s Eighteen Hundred and Eleven

Anna Barbauld’s Eighteen Hundred and Eleven demonstrates Romantic-era Cosmopolitanism’s promotion of a global consciousness and transnational empathy. Cosmopolitan theory emerged as a result of Napoleon’s growing power, English imperialism and the development of a global economy. This theory, however, is marked by the limitations and stereotypes of the time, as it frequently advocates European and Anglo superiority. Anna Barbauld’s poem is no exception. Eighteen Hundred and Eleven criticizes Britain’s foreign policy of imperialism, but is divided in doing so, illustrating the limitations of Romantic Cosmopolitanism. This poem, however, should not be devalued for its displays of insularity. Instead, we must examine the divisions and stereotypes, as well as recognize its progressive promotion of transnational sympathy to gain a greater understanding of cosmopolitan thought during Barbauld’s time. This paper will examine the divisions and successes of the poem through a close reading of lines 31-38 and 73-82. I will examine the poetic details of the poem, indicating that they function to create serious political poetry. I will then address the thematic concerns of...

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