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Masks of ConquestLiterary Study and British Rule in India$
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Gauri Viswanathan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231171694

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231171694.001.0001

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Rewriting English

Rewriting English

(p.94) 4 Rewriting English
Masks of Conquest

Gauri Viswanathan

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the dramatic disavowal of English literature's association with Christianity, indicating a shift from universal Christian truths to the legitimacy of British authority—from religious forms to intellectual control. Disavowal was an effort at resolution between these two contrary states, and a justification of two mutually exclusive effects, one seeking identity within history and the other seeking differentiations outside it. The strategic value of disavowal conferred upon modern knowledge, as a product of historical development and increased human capacities for reason, the status of independence from systems of belief based on pure faith. The dissociation, executed by jurist Charles Cameron, was therefore less of a denial of Christian influence in European literature and more of a rewriting of Christianity as empirical knowledge.

Keywords:   English literature, Christianity, Christian truths, empirical knowledge, reason, faith, Charles Cameron

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