Forms of Empire: The Poetics of Victorian Sovereignty riveted my attention from page 1 and kept it until the end. If Hensley is in fact still an assistant professor, as the dust jacket says, Georgetown University has lost all perspective. By any metric, the work here is exceptionally well informed and thoughtful. Even when one disagrees with a particular argument, the archival research, the theoretical sophistication, the lucidity of the writing, and the commitment are impressive.

We have had critiques of abstract liberalism, when formal or procedural equality masks material or substantive inequalities. And of bleak liberalism, that recognizes the barriers to equality and feels its way between its own pessimism/skepticism and hope/aspirations through conditions of constraint and possibility. Forms of Empire is a critique of bloody liberalism. It begins with statistics of Victoria's reign, often misleadingly called the Pax Victoriana or “Age...

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