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Palgrave Macmillan

Urban Enlightenment and the Eighteenth-Century Periodical Essay

Transatlantic Retrospects

ISBN 9781137378231
Publication Date January 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Palgrave Studies in the Enlightenment, Romanticism and the Cultures of Print

Urban Enlightenment and the Eighteenth-Century Periodical Essay is the first extensive literary history of the eighteenth-century British periodical essay, and the first to examine the critical reception and canonizing of the genre in a transatlantic context. Drawing on a wide range of early Modern and Enlightenment essays, character writings and critical reviews, it argues that authors on both sides of the Atlantic came to regard the periodical essay as a literary means of transmitting moral-civic wisdom to posterity. As it traces the developments and changes in the genre across the century, this study devotes special attention to important but lesser-read mid-century London serials like the World and Connoisseur, the Edinburgh Mirror and Lounger, and Washington Irving's Salmagundi. By recovering the conception of literary citizenship that grounds these serials' claims to the notice of posterity, Urban Enlightenment gives new insights into the historical character of the Enlightenment literary public sphere.

Richard Squibbs is Assistant Professor of English at DePaul University in Chicago, USA. His articles on eighteenth-century British and early American literature have appeared in ELH, Modern Philology and Huntington Library Quarterly.

1. Reviewing a Genre
2. London's Character
3. Characters of the Age
4. Public Prospects
5. Scottish Variations
6. Federalist Revisions
7. Irving's Knickerbocker in Retrospect


"[A] lively and important book... a fascinating portrait of a genre that might, if critics like Squibbs have their way, displace the novel as the arch-genre of the period in scholarly minds... Scholars of eighteenth-century writing, on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, will be very grateful for Squibbs's close attention to and invigorating reinterpretation of one of the Enlightenment's defining genres." — Nikki Hessell, The BARS Review
"Squibbs has delivered on his promise to shed light on lesser-known works that enrich our understanding of eighteenth-century literary culture in all its diversity, and has demonstrated that these essayists were important commentators on an emergent modernity in which print and the cultivation of taste and manners were deemed crucial. He firmly situates these essays in their social and political contexts, which is all the more impressive since he deals with more than a century of history in England, Scotland, and the United States." — Devin Vartija, Tijdschrift voor tijdschriftstudies
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