Social Authorship and the Advent of Print

Social Authorship and the Advent of Print

by Margaret J. M. Ezell
     
 

How did academic and literary writers living in rural Britain in the 1680s establish their careers and find audiences for their work? What factors influenced the choices of essayists and dramatists who lived outside London and the university cities? Who read the works of regional poets and natural scientists and how were they circulated?

In this engaging study of

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Overview

How did academic and literary writers living in rural Britain in the 1680s establish their careers and find audiences for their work? What factors influenced the choices of essayists and dramatists who lived outside London and the university cities? Who read the works of regional poets and natural scientists and how were they circulated?

In this engaging study of the development of literary industry and authorship in early modern Britain, Margaret Ezell examines the forces at work at a time when print technology was in competition with older manuscript authorship practices and the legal status of authors was being transformed. She also explores the literary concepts that subsequently developed out of new commercial practices, such as the rise of the "classic" text and the marketing of uniform series editions.

Ezell's interdisciplinary approach draws together the history of the book and cultural history. The result allows the reader a glimpse of literary life as practiced by "social" authors in the context of the development of commercial publishing and the formalization of copyright laws defining texts and authors. Ezell examines how early modern publishers went about choosing books to publish and why some groups of writers—"social" authors—were successful without relying on the growing publishing and bookselling industries. She concludes that, especially for writers living away from large cities, privately produced and circulated manuscripts remained the best means of transmitting literary or academic work and achieving recognition as an author. An underlying question, Ezell notes, is whether the Internet will inspire the reemergence of the "social" author, whose work can be circulated to readers without the assistance of a publishing firm.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Rocky Mountain Review - Marjorie Swann

A complex, nuanced portrait of English reading and writing during the Restoration and early eighteenth century... Ezell's deeply intelligent, challenging book will thus interest not only early modern specialists, but a more general readership concerned with issues of authorial identity and technological change.

Early Modern Literary Studies - Scott Nixon

Ezell's is a beautifully written and cogently argued study [and] an unqualified success.

South Atlantic Review - Zeynep Tenger

Margaret Ezell's most recent book, Social Authorship and the Advent of Print, as her previous work, The Patriarch's Wife (1987) and Writing Women's Literary History (1993), is a revisionist literary history at its best.

Technology and Culture - Frederic D. Schwarz

Ezell eloquently challenges her fellow scholars' equation, conscious or unconscious, of authorship with publication.

College Literature - Allison Fraiberg

In concise yet detailed fashion, Ezell shows us how commercial print culture eclipsed its vibrant manuscript counterpart.

Journal of English and Germanic Philology - Gerald MacLean

Lucid and engaging in both style and argumentation.

Eighteenth-Century Life - Nicholas Hudson

Opens a new chapter in our understanding of writing and print in the Early Modern Era.

South Central Review - Devoney Looser

Ezell's work has become the gold standard for responsible, revisionary literary historicizing in the early modern period... Her work is groundbreaking in the most refreshing and dynamic sense.

Rocky Mountain Review
A complex, nuanced portrait of English reading and writing during the Restoration and early eighteenth century... Ezell's deeply intelligent, challenging book will thus interest not only early modern specialists, but a more general readership concerned with issues of authorial identity and technological change.

— Marjorie Swann

Early Modern Literary Studies
Ezell's is a beautifully written and cogently argued study [and] an unqualified success.

— Scott Nixon

South Atlantic Review
Margaret Ezell's most recent book, Social Authorship and the Advent of Print, as her previous work, The Patriarch's Wife (1987) and Writing Women's Literary History (1993), is a revisionist literary history at its best.

— Zeynep Tenger

Technology and Culture
Ezell eloquently challenges her fellow scholars' equation, conscious or unconscious, of authorship with publication.

— Frederic D. Schwarz

College Literature
In concise yet detailed fashion, Ezell shows us how commercial print culture eclipsed its vibrant manuscript counterpart.

— Allison Fraiberg

Journal of English and Germanic Philology
Lucid and engaging in both style and argumentation.

— Gerald MacLean

Eighteenth-Century Life
Opens a new chapter in our understanding of writing and print in the Early Modern Era.

— Nicholas Hudson

South Central Review
Ezell's work has become the gold standard for responsible, revisionary literary historicizing in the early modern period... Her work is groundbreaking in the most refreshing and dynamic sense.

— Devoney Looser

Booknews
Ezell (liberal arts, Texas A&M U.) investigates how British authors living outside of London and the university cities got their work circulated and built literary careers. She describes how what were called social authors bypassed the emerging commercial printing and publishing industry and continued to produce and circulate manuscripts. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801877377
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
09/01/2003
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Margaret J. M. Ezell is the John Paul Abbott Professor of Liberal Arts at Texas A & M University. Her books include Writing Women's Literary History, also available from Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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