The advent of statutory copyright in eighteenth-century England raised questions about ensuring access to the materials that writers need to produce new books. The public domain did not spring into being as the obverse of the rights afforded by the Act of Anne (1710), nor was it created by nineteenth-century doctrines such as fair use; rather, it developed out of practices and assumptions predating the Act of Anne and others that emerged in the statute’s wake. To explore these ideas, this chapter considers booksellers’ and authors’ conceptions of copyright as property, the metaphors proposed by advocates of anti-piracy measures, arguments about copyright’s duration and its basis in the common law, and analogies between copyright and patent law during this period. Finally, the chapter discusses the booksellers’ strategic litigation in the equity courts, where pleading could rely on imaginative premises that, in some respects, rival those of contemporaneous novelists.
Jayne Elizabeth Lewis
Integral to both Anglican liturgy and nonconformist devotional practice in the eighteenth century, the “Englished” Psalm supplied a common currency between competing but increasingly compatible confessional groups. The Psalms also turn up everywhere in emergent, nonreligious literary genres. In both settings, the Psalms calibrated signature speech acts of imprecation, petition, and praise with lexical praxes that a commercialized print culture made not only possible and common but visible and adjustable by individual writers and readers. A novel experimental culture of the English Psalms held unprecedented potential to turn class, credal, and historical division into unity but also posed uniquely “modern” perils. While the Psalms could now be experienced directly as sources of freedom and pleasure available to a wide range of Christian readers and writers, they also potentially transferred the experience of pleasure from a many-personed God to printed English words.
Drawing on literary, visual, and philosophical sources from the period, this article asks what is landscape, how was it represented and understood in the eighteenth century, and how might we understand its different forms and agenda now? It focuses on why terms such as landscape, nature, and beauty remain problematic; explores ideas of location, scale, and point of view; and discusses the influence of classical georgic and pastoral models on eighteenth-century ways of seeing. The article argues that landscapes were experienced quite differently because of class, gender, and education, and stresses the wide range of landscapes created by eighteenth-century writers of quite different kinds. Finally, it suggests the importance of emotion as a driving force in the construction of landscape and the need to understand landscape not as something “out there,” but rather as centrally concerned with the expression of self.
This article explores how changing ideas about time and time-telling had a powerful and lasting impact upon the literature of the long eighteenth century (i.e., c. 1660–c. 1830). After a brief overview of the dominant technological, scientific, and philosophical preoccupations, the discussion concentrates on influential recent critical studies of topics such as the relationship between clock time and narrative structure in the novels of Samuel Richardson and Laurence Sterne, the appearance of poetical subgenres directly inspired by mechanical timepieces, and the characteristic skepticism of certain Romantic authors toward the alleged merits of temporal rationalization. Although most of these studies have focused on how the (quasi-)isochronicity of pocket watches and pendulum clocks directly influenced particular literary forms, structures, and themes, this article concludes by arguing that the relationship between literature and time was (in fact) partially reciprocal, and that the former therefore sometimes profoundly altered contemporaneous attitudes toward the practical business of time-telling.
This article begins by discussing seventeenth- and eighteenth-century notions of media, mediation, and communication. How did early modern notions of the “medium” and of “mediation” overlap with and differ from common understandings of these terms today? The second section provides an overview of media and mediation in the eighteenth century, heeding recent calls for a new history of mediation that includes not only what we now identify as communications media (e.g., print, voice, and script) but also new genres, protocols, opportunities, and infrastructures for communication. The penultimate section addresses eighteenth-century histories of mediation. Enlightenment authors increasingly conceptualized their era as an age in history defined by a particular set of communication practices and tools. The concluding section addresses the challenges and opportunities of the “media turn” in literary and cultural studies and the future of the history of media and mediation.
This article examines the effects of the unprecedented number of prosecutions for political opinion in the 1790s and afterward on romantic period literature. The chief instrument for these prosecutions was the law on libel. This legal framework placed a premium on various forms of metaphor, irony, and allegory, which the Crown had to construe as concrete libels in any prosecution. Many trials became major public events, a visible part of the period’s print culture, widely reported in newspapers and eagerly consumed by the public in a variety of media. The courtroom provided a theater of radical opinion in which defendants could publicize their views and mock the authority of the state. The pressure exerted on writers by the law on libel also conditioned a more general anxiety and may even have influenced developing ideas of the autonomy of the aesthetic.