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The Work of Writing

Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700-1830

Clifford Siskin

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"This book, like Siskin's first book, will be talked about, quoted, and used, both inside and outside the discipline. Its thesis is, by itself, worth the price of admission."—Kurt Heinzelman, University of Texas at Austin

As today's new technologies challenge the reign of writing, Clifford Siskin puts our current concerns about such change into history. In the 18th and early 19th centuries in Britain, he argues, the "new" technology was writing itself. How did its proliferation—in print and through silent reading—coalesce into the dominant forms of literary modernity, and with what consequences...

"This book, like Siskin's first book, will be talked about, quoted, and used, both inside and outside the discipline. Its thesis is, by itself, worth the price of admission."—Kurt Heinzelman, University of Texas at Austin

As today's new technologies challenge the reign of writing, Clifford Siskin puts our current concerns about such change into history. In the 18th and early 19th centuries in Britain, he argues, the "new" technology was writing itself. How did its proliferation—in print and through silent reading—coalesce into the dominant forms of literary modernity, and with what consequences?

What changed, strikingly and fundamentally, were ways of knowing and of working. Admonitions against young women reading novels were not merely matters of Augustan conservatism but signals of those shifts: they warned against the capacity of the technology to change those who used it. Despite such caution, Britain saw, between 1700 and 1830, the advent of both modern disciplinarity and modern professionalism. These new divisions of knowledge and of labor were the work of writing, as was the engendering, at their intersection, of the discipline that took writing itself as its professional work—Literature.

Reviews

Reviews

Once again, Siskin has pulled it off brilliantly. I do not know how complicated the historicist's task will be ten years from now, but I am sure that Siskin will be taking it on, breaking new ground well ahead of the rest of us.

Despite the ferociously abstract character of these subjects, Siskin is always able to exemplify and particularize.

Siskin's already influential book goes even further, raising serious questions about the methodologies and founding principles of print-culture research.

What is most striking about this book is its sense of the intricacy and mobility of the connections between these changing categories of knowing and working—disciplinarity, professionalism, and Literature.

Siskin successfully relocates literature within a broader history of culture, writing, social change, economics, sociology, and communication theory.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
5.5
x
8.5
Pages
296
ISBN
9780801862847
Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
The Argument: Writing As A New Technology
Part I: Disciplinarity: The Political Economy of Knowledge
Chapter 1. Writing Havoc
Chapter 2. Engendering Disciplinarity
Chapter 3. Scottish

Acknowledgements
The Argument: Writing As A New Technology
Part I: Disciplinarity: The Political Economy of Knowledge
Chapter 1. Writing Havoc
Chapter 2. Engendering Disciplinarity
Chapter 3. Scottish Philosophy And English Literature
Part II: Professionalism: The Poetics of Labor
Chapter 4. The Georgic At Work
Chapter 5. The Lyricization of Labor
Part III: Novelism: Literature In the History Of Writing
Chapter 6. Periodicals, Authorship, And The Romantic Rise Of The Novel
Chapter 7. The Novel, The Nation, And The Naturalization Of Writing
Part IV: Gender: The Great Forgetting
Chapter 8. What We Remember: The Case Of Austen
Chapter 9. How We Forgot: Reproduction And Reverse Vicariousness
Notes
Index

Author Bio
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Clifford Siskin

Clifford Siskin, author of The Historicity of Romantic Discourse, holds the Bradley Chair of English Literature at the University of Glasgow.