The Constitution of Literature: Literacy, Democracy, and Early English Literary Criticism
The Constitution of Literature challenges the prevailing understanding of the relationship between literature and democracy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when both literature and democracy were acquiring their modern forms. Against the heroic story of criticism shaping the modern public sphere as recounted by Habermas and his followers, it explores how different resistances to democratized reading preoccupied the thinking of the major English literary critics of the time. By paying attention to how critics participated in a debate over theories of reading—its processes for acquiring meaning from the page, its psychological and social effects on individuals, and its diffusion across the population—this book offers a new understanding of the political history of early literary criticism.
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Absalom and Achitophel Addison and Steele Areopagitica argues argument arts associated authors Bauthumley Bible Calvin chapter cited parenthetically Civil Wars claims concern constitution of literature contends Coppe debate over reading debate over theories democracy democratized reading describes Dictionary Dryden early eighteenth-century early English literary early literary critics eighteenth Eikonoklastes English Civil Wars English literary criticism Enlightenment Essay on Criticism example Exclusion Crisis Habermas Habermas's Hobbes Hobbes's Hume Hume's ibid imagination implied important irrational J. C. D. Clark language Leviathan logocentric Luther Mac Flecknoe meaning memory Milton models of reading modern monarch natural passions perusal poem poetry Pope Pope's possible proposes public sphere radical democrats rational readers reason Religio Laid represents Restoration Royal Society rules Samuel Johnson seen sense seventeenth century Spectator Sprat stability Standard of Taste Steele's Subsequent quotations surveying Tatler theories of reading tion tropological types of reading understanding words writing