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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The presence of orality or improvisation in literary texts implies a process of remediation, or the reworking of one medium (speech) into another (print). This chapter addresses ways in which British Romantic writers effected this remediation, especially when portraying the creative processes of minstrels and improvisers in literary works. After introducing key works of theory and criticism bearing on Romantic orality, the chapter analyses the rise of literary minstrelsy in the work of writers such as Walter Scott, who used editorial paratexts to frame the content of minstrelsy in the scholarly conventions of print. It then examines the growth of improvisation as an alternative mode to minstrelsy and shows how literary improvisation was notable for the prominence of women writers in its creation and practice. The chapter closes with a treatment of later blackface minstrelsy’s complex relationship to Romantic representations of orality.

Keywords: orality, improvisation, minstrelsy, inspiration, paratexts, antiquarianism

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