The lucid silver and the glowing ore: British women writers mine South America, 1770--1860

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Kathryn Freeman - Committee Chair


This dissertation is the first to critically position mining narratives within the field of Romanticism, aiming to propel a long-neglected study of South America into the ideological framework of the current canon. Geographical representations of these mining landscapes, I contend, provide vital links to British theories of maritime colonization, nation building, and natural history in the years between 1770 and 1860, otherwise referred to as the Long Romantic Period. Mining narratives, those pertaining to the extraction of gold and silver, are found in the works of Charlotte Smith, Felicia Hemans, Anne Grant, Maria Graham (nee Dundas), Joanna Baillie, Charlotte Elizabeth, Anna Seward, and the women represented in this study: Anna Laetitia Barbauld (nee Aikin), Helen Maria Williams, and Mary Seacole (nee Grant). The project considers how these three women authors engage with varying discourses of nature that we not only view as Romantic in form, but also understand as ecocritical in scope. Barbauld, Williams, and Seacole, I argue, approach the work of Empire from an ecocritical point of view; however, each one problematizes her own subject position as it relates to nature, mining, and the subjugation of the landscape in South America. Close readings of Barbauld's "The Groans of the Tankard" (1773), Williams's Peru, A Poem in Six Cantos (1784), and Seacole's Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857) are presented.


Women's Studies; Literature, English

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