John Strachan. Advertising and Satirical Culture in the Romantic Period

By Chasar, Mike | Studies in Romanticism, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

John Strachan. Advertising and Satirical Culture in the Romantic Period


Chasar, Mike, Studies in Romanticism


John Strachan. Advertising and Satirical Culture in the Romantic Period. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Pp. 368. $99.00.

Studying the poetry of the consumer marketplace and its surprisingly frequent intersection with "literary" or "high" culture is an oftentimes lonely, thankless endeavor despite the serious questions it asks: How has poetry, the most culturally prestigious of the literary arts, been used to sell not just products but an entire consumerist ideology? How has "literary" poetry positioned itself as oppositional to the consumer marketplace yet imitated, incorporated, or otherwise traded in the discourses of advertising poetry at the same time? And how has for-profit poetry itself been a site of literary innovation, imitating, incorporating, or otherwise trading in the literary discourses from which it is supposed to be so different? Investigations of this sort--these are questions central to Advertising and Satirical Culture in the Romantic Period--are oftentimes impeded by a number of factors (including the difficulty of recovering much of the primary material itself, which was ephemeral in nature and thus escaped widespread collection), the most significant of which may be a predisposition on the part of mainstream literary critics to disparage advertising poetry and academic efforts at assessing that poetry. In dismissing--or in simply ignoring--this enormous, diverse, and extremely public branch of poetry, these critics, John Strachan's study reveals, in fact follow a critical tradition established during the Romantic Era when writers began to accuse advertising of debasing the genre of poetry as a whole. As Robert Montgomery put it in his 1828 satire on the "Art of Puffing," advertising forced poetry into acting "I" the manner of the whore" (258).

Highlighting the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Romantic-Era advertising and its relationship to the period's satirical writing, Strachan's goal in Advertising and Satirical Culture is, in part, to complicate the literary landscape of England by revealing an entire sphere of literary activity created and sustained not just by copy writers but also by figures such as Byron, Coleridge, Crabbe, Dickens, Lamb, and Wordsworth. Like the most successful advertisers, this is not the only product Strachan is offering for sale. For once we buy this bill of goods--and it's hard not to, given two survey chapters on the interpenetration of advertising and satire as well as "close readings" of campaigns for shoe blacking, the national lottery, hair oils, and barbers--the literary-critical "branding" of Romanticism itself comes under question. "In its widespread focus upon the 'author' of the brand, its claims of originality, creativity and genius, its egotism and its warnings about the dangers of imitation," Strachan suggests, "the rhetoric of advertising copy often has a certain similarity to high Romantic argument" (11). As with advertising during the early twentieth century--when advertisers sought to "make it new" as often as modernist authors did--the values of literary and commercial production can sometimes so overlap that distinctions between "high" and "low" threaten to dissolve. "While I am not blind to the differences between these cultural forms [advertising copy and literature]," Strachan writes, "this book seeks to draw parallels between advertising's self-preoccupation and that of Romanticism's 'egotistical sublime'" (11).

Following Thomas Hood, who in 1843 called advertising a "department of literature," Advertising and Satirical Culture begins with a survey of advertising copy and images that emphasizes the industry's spirit of catholicity that produced everything from short jingles to elaborate imitations of Milton, Shakespeare, and contemporary writers. In an age when advertising increasingly employed brand iconography and used advertising brokers in sustained national and international campaigns, it also became more innovative in concept and medium, oftentimes eschewing newspapers (which "seemed determined to curb advertising ingenuity") in favor of elaborate street theater, handbills, posted bills, wall chalking, and white washing (22). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

John Strachan. Advertising and Satirical Culture in the Romantic Period
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.