Public quarrelling in the Romantic period: the rhetorical styles of John Burgoyne, Thomas Paine, William Cobbett, and Percy Bysshe Shelley

Alkormaji, A., 2014. Public quarrelling in the Romantic period: the rhetorical styles of John Burgoyne, Thomas Paine, William Cobbett, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

a PhD Thesis pdf_ June 2015.pdf Amna Alkormaji.pdf - Published version

Download (1MB) | Preview


This thesis focuses on the concept and style of quarrelling in the writings of four British Romantic authors: General John Burgoyne (1722-1792), Thomas Paine (1737-1809), William Cobbett (1763-1835), and Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). All four authors engaged in radical writing about war, politics and various controversial social issues during the American War of Independence and the Regency period (1811-1820). This study situates their political arguments in the historical context and the political discourse of the time. It demonstrates how their style of arguing is particularly aptly described by the term 'quarrelling' because of the combination of personal motives, interests and conflicts with the discussion of larger public problems during this turbulent historical period. I start with a discussion of General Burgoyne’s pamphlets, through which he sought both to justify the political decision of the surrender of British troops at Saratoga and to clear his name of accusations of being personally responsible for losing the war. I compare Burgoyne’s suppression of anger and use of a polite style of arguing to Thomas Paine’s gradual transition from a humble quarrelling approach in his pamphlet The Case of the Officers of Excise to a more openly angry and sarcastic attitude in his later works in support of America’s independence. Paine’s predominantly rational and objective rhetoric is then contrasted to William Cobbett’s cantankerous attitude in his pamphlets, letters and his own newspaper The Political Register, through which he conducted polemical battles blending public issues with personal conflicts. Finally, the thesis compares the rhetorical devices of quarrelling exemplified in the political prose of Burgoyne, Paine and Cobbett to the use of poetry for the purposes of political quarrelling by Shelley. In this wide range of quarrelling attitudes, the thesis outlines the fluctuation between personal emotions, in particular anger, and an objective or polite tone in the written quarrels of each author, as well as between these authors. It thus demonstrates how their stylistic choices were affected by their social positions and circumstances and the different audiences they were addressing. The comparison of these four authors’ methods of combining personal and public arguing aims to give a sense of how quarrels were conducted within the public sphere in the Romantic period.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Alkormaji, A.
Date: September 2014
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed in the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 26 May 2016 09:46
Last Modified: 26 May 2016 09:46

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year