At the turn of the nineteenth century, writers arguing for the abolition of the slave trade and the emancipation of those in bondage used the language of sentiment and the political ideals of the Enlightenment to make their case. This collection investigates the rhetorical features and political complexities of the culture of sentimentality as it grappled with the material realities of transatlantic slavery. Are the politics of sentimental representation progressive or conservative? What dynamics are in play at the site of suffering? What is the relationship of the spectator to the spectacle of the body in pain? The contributors take up these and related questions in essays that examine poetry, plays, petitions, treatises and life-writing that engaged with contemporary debates about abolition.