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Appears in Collections:History and Politics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Reading against Reform: The Bristol Library Society and the Intellectual Culture of Bristol's Elections in 1812
Author(s): Smith, Joshua J.
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Keywords: anti-Jacobin
civic politics
Edward Protheroe
extra-parliamentary party
Samuel Romilly
Issue Date: Feb-2024
Date Deposited: 19-Mar-2024
Citation: Smith JJ (2024) Reading against Reform: The Bristol Library Society and the Intellectual Culture of Bristol's Elections in 1812. <i>Parliamentary History</i>, 43 (1), pp. 112-128.
Abstract: This article pioneers a new methodological approach to the study of electoral politics by combining an analysis of the politics of reading, library association and the reading habits of electors in an English urban constituency in the early 19th century. By integrating an examination of reading practices and intellectual context into our analysis of electoral contests, political history scholars can go further in their examination of the unreformed electoral system and attempt to gauge the motivations behind voting habits and partisan identification in this period. Using electoral voting data and the records of an urban subscription library, this article explores the interrelation between the Bristol Library Society and Bristol's electoral politics, as well as conducting an analysis of which books were being borrowed and read by electors in a politically tumultuous year. Although few in number compared with the total size of Bristol's electorate, Bristol Library members were among some of the most politically and culturally influential individuals in Bristol society and were active participants in electoral contests in the city, either as candidates, campaigners, civic officials or voters. An analysis of their voting habits reveals that the library's membership reflected the Tory political hegemony that became pronounced in the city's civic politics. Moreover, an analysis of their reading habits in 1812 reveals an interest in political texts that were conservative and anti-Gallic in tone, that were representative of the political climate in Bristol in 1812, and which contributed to the defeat of candidates for reform in its electoral contests.
DOI Link: 10.1111/1750-0206.12725
Rights: © 2024 The Authors. Parliamentary History published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Parlimentary History Yearbook Trust. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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