Could it be that the American Revolution, perhaps even the idea of America itself, began quietly in homes and schoolrooms in the reading lessons of children? Gillian Brown takes us back to basics - to the theories of reading developed by John Locke - to show how a revolutionary attitude toward authority was disseminated throughout the colonies that would become the United States. Locke linked consent with childhood, and it is his formulation of the child's natural right to consent that 18th-century Americans absorbed from the Lockean pedagogies and textbooks. Tracing the Lockean legacy through the "New England Primer" and popular readers, fables and fairy tales, Brown demonstrates how Locke's emphasis on the liberty - and difficulty - of individual judgement became a received notion in the American colonies. After the revolution, a different prototype of individuality emerged in the American discourse on consent, in which images of seduced or misguided women replaced those of wronged children.
Brown looks at two such figures, the coquette and the quixote, to reveal what they tell us about the perceived distance between conventions and the varieties of individuals whom consent can and should serve. Thus, this book suggests, the Lockean legacy to the United States is a reminder of the continual work to be done to endow every individual with consent and to make consent matter.
Buy Consent of the Governed book by Gillian Brown from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(235mm x 155mm x 29mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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