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                            University of Pennsylvania
Romantic Periodicals and the Invention of the Living Author
	Christine Marie Woody
		Recommended Citation
	Romantic Periodicals and the Invention of the Living Author
		Degree Type
		Degree Name
		Graduate Group
		First Advisor
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Page 1

University of Pennsylvania

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations


Romantic Periodicals and the Invention of the
Living Author
Christine Marie Woody
University of Pennsylvania, [email protected]

Follow this and additional works at:

This paper is posted at ScholarlyCommons.
For more information, please contact [email protected]

Recommended Citation
Woody, Christine Marie, "Romantic Periodicals and the Invention of the Living Author" (2016). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations.
mailto:[email protected]

Page 2

Romantic Periodicals and the Invention of the Living Author


Christine Marie Woody

Michael Gamer

This dissertation asks how the burgeoning market of magazines, book reviews, and newspapers shapes the
practice and meaning of authorship during the Romantic period. Surveying the innovations in and
conventions of British periodical culture between 1802 and 1830, this study emphasizes the importance of
four main periodicals—the Edinburgh Review, Quarterly Review, London Magazine, and Blackwood’s
Edinburgh Magazine—to the period’s understanding of what it means to be, or read, an author who is still
living. In it, I argue that British periodicals undertook a project to theorize, narrativize, and regulate the
deceptively simple concept of a living author. Periodicals confronted the inadequacy of their critical methods
in dealing with the living and came to define the “living author” as a disturbing model for the everyday
person—an encouragement to self-display and a burden on public attention. Through their engagement with
this disruptive figure, periodical writers eventually found in it a potential model for their own contingent,
anonymous work, and embraced the self-actualizing possibilities that this reviled figure unexpectedly offered.
My chapters survey crises and scandals in the periodical sphere; from the famous attacks on John Keats and
Leigh Hunt, to the dismissal of female novelists like Fanny Burney, to the uproar over the political apostasies
of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey. Through a critical look at the book-
reviewing project and other responses to living authors, I argue that the Romantic periodical invented living
authorship as practice rather than ontology, emphasizing the importance of body, habit, and iterative
performance to its significance.

Degree Type

Degree Name
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

First Advisor
Michael Gamer

authorship, book history, periodicals, reception studies, Romantic, Romanticism

This dissertation is available at ScholarlyCommons:

Page 109


When reviewers

constructed through, and maintained by, habitual actions. For instance, for the Quarterly Review,


while his bodily labor has a crucial role in producing his poetry. The reviewer explains that

the chimney corner to exercise and to

QR 23:45 [May 1820] 167-8).

drive Clare out of the house to

QR 23:45 [May 1820] 174). Alienation from this environment

and these occupations, the reviewer warns, will undermine him as a poet:

[W]e entreat him to continue something of his present occupations; to attach himself to

a few in the sincerity of whose friendship he can confide, and to suffer no temptations of

the idle and the dissolute to seduce him from the quiet scenes of his youth scenes so

congenial to his taste, to the hollow and heartless society of cities; to the haunts of men

who would court and flatter him while his name was new, and who, when they had

contributed to distract his attention and impair his health, would cast him off

unceremoniously to seek some other novelty. (QR 23:45 [May 1820] 173-4)

Here the common trope of avoiding the corruptions of the city is subtly transformed by the

labor that made him a good one. Clare is caught between the poles of personal prosperity and the

need to continually reconstitute the same self through the same activities. By attacking authors

through their bodies and habits, personality makes available an understanding of the body as

performance rather than ontology and lays the groundwork for the authorialization of the

quotidian person found in the late-Romantic writing of De Quincey, Lamb, Hazlitt, and Lockhart

discussed in my final chapter.

Page 110


When the authorial body appears in a personality, it appears as something unstable;

personalities continue to point to how bodies are constructed through habits, social rituals, or

even accidents. The authorial body draws attention to the instability of the authorial life. Even as

personalities attempt to pin an author down to a set of images, judgments, or interpretations, the

instability of the body that personality points to causes it to slip away. Paradoxically, personality

arises as a means of dealing with a surplus of authors, but it ends up cementing the problematic

importance of the personal to the idea of an author. Living authors, in particular, provide the

newest and most exciting ground for this work. It is this involvement with the living author, and

the further challenges such a figure lays down for society, that the next chapter will address.

Page 217


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