Alexander Somerville’s Rise from Serfdom: Working-Class Self-Fashioning through Journalism, Autobiography, and Political Economy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Alexander Somerville (1811–85) fits well James Epstein’s definition of an intellectual as “predominantly functional as someone who assumes the role of persuader, consciously producing or conveying ideas to a public.” This chapter examines Somerville’s identities across autobiography, journalism, and political economy to explore ways in which he shaped a complex, mixed-class identity, full of divided loyalties. His virtual walks turned workers’ long treks between work and home into an ownership of Britain through political economy, an ownership by the unpropertied workers he encouraged to travel and to explore the wider world. Somerville’s writings participated in an emerging and increasingly vocal working-class public presence and readership. As a journalist, he served as an effective spokesperson for laborers and honed his views. Somerville’s radical views were tempered by identifications with the work ethic and family life; his family was rural, “progressive, ” close, and supportive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Working-Class Intellectual in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages195-218
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781351880343
ISBN (Print)9781315236537
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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