The Constitution of Literature: Literacy, Democracy, and Early English Literary Criticism

Front Cover
Stanford University Press, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 242 pages
The Constitution of Literature challenges the prevailing understanding of the relationship between literature and democracy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when both literature and democracy were acquiring their modern forms. Against the heroic story of criticism shaping the modern public sphere as recounted by Habermas and his followers, it explores how different resistances to democratized reading preoccupied the thinking of the major English literary critics of the time. By paying attention to how critics participated in a debate over theories of reading--its processes for acquiring meaning from the page, its psychological and social effects on individuals, and its diffusion across the population--this book offers a new understanding of the political history of early literary criticism.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Habermas and the Resistance to Reading
1
Dryden and the Project of Restoration
61
An Act of Settlement
112
Hume the Politics of Passion and Reading
133
Samuel Johnson the Constitution
155
Unfinished Project of Deconstruction
181
Notes
201
Bibliography
217
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Lee Morrissey is Professor of English at Clemson University. He is the author of From the Temple to the Castle: An Architectural History of British Literature, 1660-1760 (1999) and the editor of Debating the Canon: A Reader, from Addison to Nafisi (2005).

Bibliographic information