Fatal News: Reading and Information Overload in Early Eighteenth-century Literature
During the so-called "Age of Melancholy," many writers invoked both traditional and new conceptualizations of the disease in order to account for various types of social turbulence, ranging from discontent and factionalism to civil war. Writing about melancholy became a way to explore both the causes and preventions of political disorder, on both specific and abstract levels. Thus, at one and the same moment, a writer could write about melancholy to discuss specific and ongoing political crises and to explore more generally the principles which generate political conflicts in the first place. In the course of developing a traditional discourse of melancholy of its own, English writers appropriated representations of the disease - often ineffectively - in order to account for the political turbulence during the civil war and Interregnum periods.
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