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Storytelling in the Spectators / Storytelling dans les spectateurs

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Edited By Klaus-Dieter Ertler, Yvonne Völkl, Elisabeth Hobisch, Alexandra Fuchs and Hans Fernández

The Spectators, also known as Moral Weeklies, were an important magazine genre which came into being in the early 18th century and which shaped European identity by developing the strategies of critical journalism and by popularizing the ideas and values of the Age of Enlightenment. Investigating modes of storytelling in the Spectators is an important starting point for a paradigmatic investigation of our historical, cultural and philosophical evolution since the Enlightenment and the impact of these magazines on issues of identity in today’s Europe. In this collection on ‹Storytelling in the Spectators›, we present a series of contributions which study English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Czech, Polish and Danish-Norwegian periodicals.

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Embroidering the Loose Dress of the Spartan Maids—Text, Sex, and Textile for Joseph Addison

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At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the co-author of the Spectator attracted the attention of the Republic of Letters and more generally that of the reading public by diverse achievements. With the new format of the periodical essay Joseph Addison developed accessible literary and philosophical discourses, as well as original aesthetic canons such as the pleasures of the imagination or his distinction between true and false wit; all the while successfully steering the Spectator, selling up to 3,000 copies at its peak and reaching an estimate of 60,000 readers per day. But Joseph Addison must also be remembered today for less obvious characteristics, the most interesting of which remains his obsession with feminine garments. The entirety of the feminine wardrobe is not only a favourite topic of his, but a text per se wherein the threads of desire and repression run more or less seamlessly.

Shoes and stockings are mentioned when the observer glimpses the ankle of a fair passenger as she is stepping out of a coach (Spectator IV, 377, 416)1. Garters are evoked through real or fictitious letters from female readers, or more precisely matrons (Tatler II, 151, 348) and audacious coquettes (Spectator II, 217, 345). Feminine clothing, it would seem, provides the author with a variety of shapes, colours and meanings. The shift, petticoat and tucker, the various forms of headgear and cosmetics, the confusing array of accessories such as fans, patches, handkerchiefs, ribbons, masks, snuff-boxes, muffs and gloves...

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