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At the heart of many texts are moments of savage wonder, provoked by European displays of technological prowess. In particular, the trope of the first gunshot articulates an origin of consent and political legitimacy in colonial showmanship. Yet as manifestations of force held in abeyance, these technologies also signal the ultimate reliance of sovereigns on extreme violence as the lessthan-mystical foundation of their authority.
By examining works by Cavendish, Defoe, Behn, Swift, and Haywood in conjunction with contemporary political writing and travelogues, Political Magic locates a subterranean discourse of sovereignty in the century after Hobbes, finding surprising affinities between the government of "savages" and of Britons.
Christopher Loar is an assistant professor at Western Washington University. His research interests include Restoration and eighteenth-century literature and culture; early modern political theory; gender studies; life writing and autobiography; and histories of science, medicine, and technology.