‘Harder if possible than the Emperor’s heart’: Narrating the Amherst Embassy (1816) (Seminar, 27th May)

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Inventions of the Text 27.05.2015The next Inventions of the Text seminar will take place on 27th May at 17.30. Professor Peter Kitson (University of East Anglia) will talk on “Narrating the Amherst Embassy (1816).” Attendees from outside Durham are welcome, but please email inventionsofthetext@gmail.com to reserve a place.

This paper concerns the second British embassy to China, that of William Pitt, Lord Amherst of 1816 and its relationship to the outbreak of hostilities between Britain and China in 1841 as recorded in John Francis Davis’ important but neglected Opium War publication: Sketches of China (1841). There has been a great deal of historical and cultural criticism relating to the first embassy to China led by Viscount Macartney of 1792-94, including two substantial historical accounts, but comparatively little has been written about its successor, which tends to be viewed largely as a farcical repetition of, or postscript to, its more famous predecessor. While contemporary responses to…

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