The Spectator: Emerging Discourses

The Spectator: Emerging Discourses

The Spectator: Emerging Discourses

The Spectator: Emerging Discourses

Synopsis

The Spectator: Emerging Discourses brings together a distinguished coterie of international scholars who take a fresh look at this influential eighteenth-century English periodical.

Excerpt

Donald J. Newman

Despite reports that joseph addison and richard steele are dead, The Spectator (1711–14), and to a lesser extent The Tatler (1709–11), still interest scholars who continue to find in their pages subjects of considerable historical interest, as Charles Knight’s Addison and Steele reference guide and the mla Bibliography attest. in 1965 Donald F. Bond attributed the persistence of this interest to the “wealth of… detail” about the daily lives of early eighteenth-century English people. “[P]resent-day interest in the Spectator,” he writes, “derives to a great extent … from the vivid picture which it gives of ordinary daily life” in Queen Anne’s England.

Recent interest, however, seems rather derived from a shift in critical perspective on the part of historians and literary scholars who are focusing on The Spectator as a significant intersection of political history, social history, and periodical history. Between the mid-seventeenth century and the end of the eighteenth, England transformed itself from what Joyce Appleby calls a “biblical economy”—a rigidly hierarchical society organized by Christian-oriented values and based on an agrarian economy—into a more democratic (though not in the modern sense) commercial state with more permeable class boundaries and a value system organized by the demands of production and consumption. Addison and Steele positioned their Spectator to critically engage the forces and discourses of change and mediate their impact on English lives and society. Taking their cues from the work of such theorists as Jürgen Habermas, Michel Foucault, Terry Eagleton, and such writers as Michael G. Ketcham, Kathryn Shevelow, and Shawn Lisa Maurer, to name a few, historians and literary scholars have begun investigating The Spectator’s relationship with an expanding middle class in a rapidly developing urban culture where traditional cultural au-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.