Karsten H. Piep, in his paper "Separatist Nationalism in Gilbert Imlay's The Emigrants," argues that only recently rediscovered among American scholars and still awaiting much critical work, Gilbert Imlay's The Emigrants offers an intriguing case study in the complex relationship between fictional representation and late eighteenth-century nation formation. Tracing briefly the novel's reception history, Piep locates The Emigrants within the socio-political context of eighteenth-century discourses on revolution, emancipation, and independence. Taking Benedict Anderson's study on the rise of nationalism as a point of reference, Piep argues that Imlay's novel offers an example of a perhaps uniquely American separatist nationalism that proffers, employs, expands, and subverts "official" or dominant accounts of nationalism by inviting a transatlantic readership to imagine an utopian community in the remote Ohio River Valley. Piep also explores in his study how novelistic representations of Benedict Anderson's notion of "homogenous, empty time" can be applied with regard to transatlantic imaginings of alternative communities in Imlay's novel.
Piep, Karsten H.
"Separatist Nationalism in Gilbert Imlay's The Emigrants."
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