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Grant number like: FA-233104-16

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Sarah Winter
University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT 06269-9000)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2016 – 7/31/2017

Habeas Corpus, Human Rights, and the Novel in the 18th and 19th Centuries

A book-length study on the development of habeas corpus and the idea of human rights in 18th- and 19th-century novels.

When James Somerset fled his master in 1771, two years after their arrival in London, the judge ruled that the former slave could not be detained and shipped back into slavery. Chief Justice of King's Bench, Lord Mansfield also granted the writ of habeas corpus used by Somerset's protectors to rescue him from detention so that he could appear before the court. British abolitionists praised Mansfield for ruling "in behalf of humanity" and recognizing slaves' "injured human rights." Beginning with the Ex parte Somerset case of 1772, my book project explores the nexus of habeas corpus jurisprudence, human rights, and the novel between 1760 and 1870. Bridging British literary history and legal history, my book delineates a popular habeas corpus narrative in which fugitive slaves and political prisoners embodied the abstract bearer of human rights. My study offers a new account of the way human rights were envisioned by means of habeas corpus as a judicial remedy for unlawful detention.