This article comprises a dialogue between two historians who have attempted, individually, to narrate the life of Lord George Gordon (1751 – 93), the Scottish prophet, revolutionary, and convert to Judaism. For modern cultural historians, Gordon's peregrinations between identities offer a kaleidoscopic view of Britain in the overlooked but crucial interstice between the upheavals of 1776 and 1789. Yet the partial nature of the evidence, the long omission of Gordon from the historiography of eighteenth-century Britain, and the complex, often furtive nature of Gordon's activism create multiple ambiguities in his story. These ambiguities are compounded here by the authors' differing approaches. Marsha Keith Schuchard argues for a Gordon shaped by Scottish origins; Dominic Green, for a Gordon responding to English opportunities. They disagree over the likely date of Gordon's conversion to Judaism and, crucially, over whether he was a religious atavist or a Romantic pioneer. This dialogue is meant to illustrate the utility of a scholarship that acknowledges fuzziness rather than attempting to overclarify it. The article is also meant to show, however, that on the public stage fuzziness can be less benign: Gordon was a religious politician, who reworked his complexities and confusions into a violent, uncompromising critique of eighteenth-century British social order.
Research Article|April 01 2013
“OUR PROTESTANT Rabbin”: A Dialogue on the Conversion/Apostasy of Lord George Gordon
Common Knowledge (2013) 19 (2): 283-314.
Dominic Green, Marsha Keith Schuchard; “OUR PROTESTANT Rabbin”: A Dialogue on the Conversion/Apostasy of Lord George Gordon. Common Knowledge 1 April 2013; 19 (2): 283–314. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2073269
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