Review of Nikki Hessell’s ‘Sensitive Negotiations’

My review of Nikki Hessell’s wonderful book, Sensitive Negotiations: Indigenous Diplomacy and British Romantic Poetry (SUNY Press, 2021), has recently been published in Studies in Romanticism 62, no. 2 (2023), 320-325. In the review I note that Hessell’s ‘carefully argued book represents not just a new way of understanding the uses and legacies of Romantic poetry, but also a way of understanding how different worlds exist in relation to each other. Like the diplomatic relations she studies, Hessell’s approach can be understood as a kind of mediation or negotiation between  relational ontologies. Diplomacy in her hands becomes a meaningful critical practice rather than just another topic for examination.’

For the full review see:

Here is an abstract or description for Sensitive Negotiations itself:

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Indigenous peoples in North America and the Pacific engaged with the latest and most fashionable British Romantic poetry as part of transcontinental and transoceanic cross-cultural negotiations about sovereignty, treaty rights, and land claims. In Sensitive Negotiations, Nikki Hessell uses examples from North America, Africa, and the Pacific to show how these Indigenous figures quoted lines from famous poets like Lord Byron and Felicia Hemans to build sympathy and community with their audience. Hessell makes new connections by setting aside European-derived genre barriers to bring literary studies to bear on the study of diplomacy and scholarship from diplomatic history and Indigenous studies to bear on literary criticism. By connecting British Romantic poetry with Indigenous diplomatic texts, artefacts, and rituals, Hessell reimagines poetry as diplomatic and diplomacy as poetic.

Nikki Hessell is Professor of English at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of Literary Authors, Parliamentary Reporters: Johnson, Coleridge, Hazlitt, Dickens and Romantic Literature and the Colonised World: Lessons from Indigenous Translations.



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