Genuine sentiments and gendered liberties: Migration and marriage in Gilbert Imlay’s the emigrants

Juliet Shields*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


During the last few decades of the eighteenth century, Anglo-American settlers began to move westward from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and farther afield into the United States’ recently acquired land between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The Ohio Valley was a locus of international rivalry among Britain, France, and the United States, with each of these powers seeking to control its land, resources, and native tribes. As westward migration increased, the Ohio Valley also became a literary site for exploring the contested meanings of sentiment, a term deeply implicated in the literatures and cultures of the nations contending for control of the region. Gilbert Imlay’s The Emigrants; or the History of an Expatriated Family (1793) is perhaps the first novel set in the Ohio Valley. This essay examines how The Emigrants incorporates the discourses of sentiment and natural rights produced by the American and French revolutions into an ideology of westward migration and settlement.1.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAtlantic Worlds in the Long Eighteenth Century
Subtitle of host publicationSeduction and Sentiment
EditorsToni Bowers, Tita Chico
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781137014610
ISBN (Print)9780230108677, 9781349291472
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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