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date: 21 February 2018

Abstract and Keywords

The two most influential works for the study of eighteenth-century literary culture in the last half-century must surely be Ian Watt’s The Rise of the Novel (1957) and Jürgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962). This essay discusses the influence of both Watt and Habermas on studies of the novel and the public sphere, and it explores the reasons for the endurance of their arguments despite decades of substantial criticism devoted to their interpretative shortcomings. It also explains the emergence of a post-Habermasian approach to the history of public-making in response to these criticisms. It concludes by discussing how recent post-Habermasian studies of news culture and political partisanship may illuminate the history of the origins of the English novel.

Keywords: Jürgen Habermas, Ian Watt, public sphere, novels, print culture, news, journalism, partisanship, publics

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