Making History: Textuality and the Forms of Eighteenth-Century Culture
"History" occupies a central, yet ambiguous position in both eighteenth-century studies and postmodernism. The impact of recent theory on eighteenth-century studies has expanded the concept of history, focusing attention on marginal and alternative discourses, genres, and subjectivities. Simultaneously, the traditional eighteenth-century paradigms of reason, truth, and nature have been identified as underlying the modern, compromised concepts of self, gender, sex, nation, race, representation, truth, and history that postmodern and postcolonial critiques challenge in the name of more liberated and pluralistic problematic. Making History (together with its companion volume, Questioning History: The Postmodern Turn to the Eighteenth-Century) is a collection of essays that registers this postmodern challenge, but questions its version of eighteenth-century historiography by demonstrating that historiography to be complicit with and implicit in the postmodern project itself. By identifying a dialogical rather than monological relation between postmodern and Enlightenment discourses and texts, Making History offers a theoretically and historically nuanced account of eighteenth-century and its dialogue with postmodernism. The essays in Making History detail the system of textualized social relations that is the canonical; they examine the forgeries and translations of James Macpherson and Thomas Chatterton as historical discourse and as the invention of national communities; they discuss the intertextualities of the historical relationships between Ann Yearsley and Horace Walpole, and between Edmund Burke, James Macintosh, and John Locke. The essays also identify and analyze the performativity of historical discourse in Matthew Lewis's The Monk (the eroticization of the object), Charlotte Lennox's The Female Quixote (retro-dressing as metaphor for history), and the works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Robinson, Catherine Macaulay, and Helen Maria Williams (female bodily strength and violence as material and ideological responses to the French Revolution.
Contributors: Martin Wechselblatt, Greg Clingham, Madeline Kahn, Erin F. Labie, Lisa Naomi Mulman, Adriana Craciun, and Steven Blakemore.
About the editor:
Greg Clingham is Professor of English and Director of the University Press at Bucknell University. He has published extensively on eighteenth-century literature and historiography, and is currently working on a project entitled "Narrative and the Ends of Law, 1650-1850."
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