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Exploring History

British Culture and Society 1700 to the Present – Essays in Honour of Professor Emma Harris

Edited By Lucyna Krawczyk-Żywko

This volume of essays in honour of Professor Emma Harris explores various branches of British history from 1700 to the present. The range of topics reflects the varied academic interests of the authors, who are friends, colleagues, and former students of Professor Harris. The essays take us on a journey through time, beginning with Queen Anne, eighteenth-century translations of literature, literary criticism, and ethnographical writings on witches. From there we proceed to Lord Byron, the outcast playwright, Victorian Englishness, modernist foreignness, the effect of World War I on language, and World War II on fashion. The collection also incorporates reflections on subcultural studies and on the fascination of the mystery of Jack the Ripper.
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Literary Criticism in English Miscellany Periodicals (1730s–1750s)

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Cooperation of literature and journalism in England became systematic and especially fruitful in the second third of the eighteenth century due to a divergence of the press and the emergence of new typological formations, such as miscellany periodicals and review journals, whose publications contributed to the development of the genres of review and critical commentary which gradually ousted the form of the critical essay in didactic magazines.

The historical importance of literary criticism in moral periodicals is significant. In the early part of the eighteenth century it was an indispensable part of the Enlightenment project, so it did not turn into a particular discourse, and the critic was essentially a cultural strategist, a locus of the languages of culture, and not a literary expert (Eagleton 18, 22). Anyhow, early eighteenth-century periodicals contributed greatly to a systematizing of literary critical acts and making criticism an integral part of English cultural life. Literary essays, addressed to a wide audience, were subjected to collective reflection, especially in literary clubs and coffee-houses, and so they determined and modified to some degree the cultural standards of the middle class. Criticism was responsive to the perceptions of, as Samuel Johnson put it, the “common reader” “uncorrupted with literary prejudices” (vol. 3, 441) and dogmatic poetics.

The genre of essay, being of free form and miscellaneous content, enabled critics to elaborate aesthetic problems, explore the nature of artistic process, ground ethical standards of criticism and pay attention to the non-canonical literary...

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