Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

English

First Advisor

Michael Gamer

Abstract

ROMANTIC PERIODICALS AND THE INVENTION OF THE LIVING AUTHOR

Christine Marie Woody

Michael Gamer

This dissertation asks how the burgeoning market of magazines, book reviews, and newspapers shapes the practice and meaning of authorship during the Romantic period. Surveying the innovations in and conventions of British periodical culture between 1802 and 1830, this study emphasizes the importance of four main periodicals—the Edinburgh Review, Quarterly Review, London Magazine, and Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine—to the period’s understanding of what it means to be, or read, an author who is still living. In it, I argue that British periodicals undertook a project to theorize, narrativize, and regulate the deceptively simple concept of a living author. Periodicals confronted the inadequacy of their critical methods in dealing with the living and came to define the “living author” as a disturbing model for the everyday person—an encouragement to self-display and a burden on public attention. Through their engagement with this disruptive figure, periodical writers eventually found in it a potential model for their own contingent, anonymous work, and embraced the self-actualizing possibilities that this reviled figure unexpectedly offered. My chapters survey crises and scandals in the periodical sphere; from the famous attacks on John Keats and Leigh Hunt, to the dismissal of female novelists like Fanny Burney, to the uproar over the political apostasies of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey. Through a critical look at the book-reviewing project and other responses to living authors, I argue that the Romantic periodical invented living authorship as practice rather than ontology, emphasizing the importance of body, habit, and iterative performance to its significance.

Share

COinS