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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In light of new research on print culture and media history, the 1820s—once considered an age of superficiality, conservatism, and mediocrity—are emerging as a key moment of experimentation and innovation at the interface of Romanticism and modernity. The era abounds in periodicals and literary magazines, non-traditional stage performances and spectacles, popular novels and serialized fiction, and curious hybrids of prose, poetry, drama, fiction, and non-fiction. The chapter argues that a recurring contrast between theatricality and authenticity characterizes these forms of expression, as do themes of spectatorship and speculation. The 1820s may be redefined and reinterpreted as an ‘age of information’ as well as an ‘age-in-formation’, a time when literature thematizes and reflects on rapid changes in the conditions of communication and in the relationship between writers and readers.

Keywords: print culture, material culture, media history, authenticity, theatricality, speculation, periodicals, celebrity

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