The Work of Writing: Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700-1830

Front Cover
JHU Press, Nov 26, 1999 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 296 pages

"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.

 

Contents

The Political Economy of Knowledge
29
Engendering Disciplinarity
54
Scottish Philosophy and English Literature
79
The Poetics of Labor
103
The Lyricization of Labor
130
Literature in the History of Writing
155
The Novel the Nation and the Naturalization
172
The Great Forgetting
193
Reproduction and Reverse
210
Notes
229
Index
271
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1999)

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

Bibliographic information