Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois

Illinois Department of English Blog


Welcome to the Department of English blog.

My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at

Monday, June 11, 2012

Enlightened Sentiments

I have not seen Hina Nazar for a few weeks now--faculty tend to stay away from the main English office during the summer months unless they're teaching summer school--but I'm almost sure that she will already  have received copies of her new book, Enlightened Sentiments: Judgment and Autonomy in the Age of Sensibility.  Fordham University Press (to which the link above takes you) lists the book as having been printed in April even though it is still listed as available for pre-order at Amazon

The book is an ambitious one, offering up an account of the philosophical stakes of early novelistic fiction that seeks at the same time to challenge some deeply entrenched habits of thought associated with contemporary criticism.  It is lucidly written and is bound, I think, to be taken up and discussed by critics well-beyond the field of 18th-century fiction. 

Here is the book description, pasted in from the Fordham University Press website:

"Enlightened Sentiments reassesses the enlightenment's liberal legacies by revisiting the wide-ranging development of eighteenth-century letters known as "sentimentalism." Nazar argues that the recent retrieval of sentimentalism as a predominantly affective culture of sensibility elides its critical motif of moral and aesthetic judgment and underrates its contributions to the key Enlightenment norm of autonomy. Drawing upon novelists from Samuel Richardson to Jane Austen, and theorists of judgment from David Hume to Hannah Arendt, the author contends that sentimental judgment complicates received understandings of liberal ethics as grounded in the opposition of reason and feeling, and autonomy and sociability and, as such, implies a powerful counter-challenge to postmodernist critiques of modernity as the harbinger principally of instrumentalist reason and disciplinary power."

Congratulations, Hina!

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