Born In a Crowd: Subjecthood Across Authorial Modes In the Nineteenth-Century Writer's Market

Title: Born In a Crowd: Subjecthood Across Authorial Modes In the Nineteenth-Century Writer's Market
Authors: Friedlander, Keith
Date: 2016
Abstract: This dissertation examines representations of authorship and subjecthood in the Romantic period as products of market position and publishing mode. In doing so, it views the traditional concept of Romantic individualism commonly associated with the solitary poet as a strategy developed to help the author navigate a complex writer’s market. Rather than focusing upon individualism as the defining authorial model for this period, however, my project presents it as one example of a diverse range of representational strategies employed by different authors operating from different positions within the market. To this end, this study compares the authorial model of the independent poet with authors engaged in a variety of other modes of publishing, including hack essayists, serialized poets, periodical editors, and celebrity authors. By examining authors operating across different publishing modes, I demonstrate that each one’s concept of public identity is shaped principally by his or her particular market position, as defined by working relationships with peers, involvement in the particulars of publishing, exchanges with the critical press, and engagement with readers. These authors include William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Charles Lamb, and Francis Jeffrey. By juxtaposing their different models of authorship, this study seeks to bridge the longstanding discourse regarding the social isolation of the Romantic poet with more contemporary streams of scholarship into the material realities of the nineteenth-century publishing industry. Drawing upon the social philosophy of the Frankfurt School and Eric Gans’ theory of Generative Anthropology, I examine how different strategies of representation were developed to preserve personal meaning and sustain public attention. By comparing responses to the rise of the writer’s market and the ubiquity of print culture, this dissertation argues that Romantic period authors demonstrate a distinctly modern understanding of public identity as a product of mediation in mass media culture.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -