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Essays and criticism on Eighteenth-Century British Periodicals - Critical Essays

Notable periodical essayists of the 18th century ..

As these sample questions demonstrate, the Athenian Mercury was focused on the social and cultural concerns of individuals. These subjects tapped into the reading public’s desire for knowledge, instructive information, and for something new and as a result, the Athenian Mercury was a huge success. (Hunter 14-15) Several features of the Athenian Mercury, such as its epistolary format and its creation of a fictional club, would be continued by another influential periodical published during the eighteenth century, Daniel Defoe’s The Review. (DeMaria 529-531)

25/02/2015 · Eighteenth Century Periodical Essay

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The Tatler (1709-1711) and The Spectator (1711-1712) were the most successful and influential single-essay periodicals of the eighteenth century but there are other periodicals that helped shape this literary genre.

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While the periodical essay emerged during the eighteenth century and reached its peak in publications like the Tatler and the Spectator, its roots can be traced back to the late seventeenth century. An important forerunner to the Spectator is John Dunton’s Athenian Mercury, which played a key role in the development of the periodical essay. (DeMaria 529-530)

It also helped fuel the other great new genre of the 18th century: periodical ..

Rise Of Periodical Essay In 18Th Century

While The Tatler introduced the form of the periodical essay, “The Spectator perfected it” and firmly established it as a literary genre. The Spectator remained influential even after it ceased publication in 1712. Other eighteenth century periodicals, including Samuel Johnson’s The Idler and The Rambler, copied the periodical essay format. Issues of The Tatler and The Spectator were published in book form and continued to sell for the rest of the century. The popularity of the periodical essay eventually started to wane, however, and essays began appearing more often in periodicals that included other material. By the mid-eighteenth century, periodicals comprised of a single essay eventually disappeared altogether from the market. (Graham 68-69)

The Periodical Essay in the Eighteenth Century

The periodical essay was a new literary form that emerged during the early part of the eighteenth century. Periodical essays typically appeared in affordable publications that came out regularly, usually two or three times a week, and were only one or two pages in length. Unlike other publications of the time that consisted of a medley of information and news, essay periodicals were comprised of a single essay on a specific topic or theme, usually having to do with the conduct or manners. They were often narrated by a persona or a group of personas, commonly referred to as a “club.” (DeMaria 529)

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Linda Colley is the Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University. She favors cross-disciplinary history, and in both her writing and her teaching examines Britain’s past in a broader European, imperial, and global context. Born in Britain, she graduated from Bristol University with First Class Honors in history (1972) and completed her Ph.D. in history at Cambridge University (1977). The first female Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, she moved to Yale University in 1982. Her first book, In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714-1760 (1982), challenged the dominant view by arguing that the Tory party remained active and potent during their years out of power. Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 (1992), which won the Wolfson Prize for History, shows how the inhabitants of England, Scotland, and Wales came to see themselves as British over the course of the 18th century. In 1998 Professor Colley left Yale to accept a Senior Leverhulme Research Professorship in History at the London School of Economics. Supported by the award, she spent the next five years researching the experiences of the thousands of Britons who were taken captive in North America, South Asia, and the Mediterranean and North Africa between 1600 and 1850 as the British Empire expanded. Captives (2002), the result of this research, uses captivity narratives to investigate the vulnerability of the empire, the complex relations between the imperialists and the societies they sought to invade, and the flexibility of individual identity. She is also the author of Namier (1989), a reappraisal of the Polish-born historian Lewis Namier.

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Ann Ardis is a professor of English and Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities at the University of Delaware. She is the author of New Women, New Novels: Feminism and Early Modernism (Rutgers, 1990) and Modernism and Cultural Conflict (Cambridge, 2002) and the co-editor, with Leslie Lewis, of Women’s Experience of Modernity (Johns Hopkins, 2002) and, with Bonnie Kime Scott, of Virginia Woolf Turning the Centuries (Pace, 2000). With Patrick Collier, she is currently editing a collection of essays on Anglo-American print culture, 1880-1940, which Palgrave will publish in 2008. She is also working currently on a single-author study, tentatively entitled "Before the Great Divides: Anglo-American Modernism in the Public Sphere, 1890-1922," about periodicals on both sides of the Atlantic at the turn of the century that sought to engage an increasingly diverse public in discussions of "modern" literature, art, and politics.