Sympathy and the State in the Romantic Era explores a
fascinating connection between two seemingly unrelated Romantic-era
discourses, outlining the extent to which eighteenth and early
nineteenth century theories of sympathy were generated by crises of
state finance. Through readings of authors such as David Hume, Adam
Smith, William Wordsworth, and P.B. Shelley, this volume
establishes the ways in which crises of state finance encouraged
the development of theories of sympathy capable of accounting for
both the fact of "social systems" as well as the modes of emotional
communication by means of which such systems bound citizens to one
Employing a methodology that draws on the systems theory of
Niklas Luhmann, Michel Serres, and Giovanni Arrighi, as well as
Gilles Deleuze s theories of time and affect, this book argues that
eighteenth and early nineteenth century philosophies of sympathy
emerged as responses to financial crises. Individual chapters focus
on specific texts by David Hume, Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
Ann Yearsley, William Wordsworth, and P.B. Shelley, but Mitchell
also draws on periodicals, pamphlets, and parliamentary hearings to
make the argument that Romantic era theories of sympathy developed
new discourses about social systems intended both to explain, as
well as contain, the often disruptive effects of state finance and
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