New Book | The Ephemeral Eighteenth Century

Posted in books by Editor on April 30, 2021

From Cambridge UP:

Gillian Russell, The Ephemeral Eighteenth Century: Print, Sociability, and the Cultures of Collecting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020),

Often regarded as trivial and disposable, printed ephemera, such as tickets, playbills and handbills, was essential in the development of eighteenth-century culture. In this original study, richly illustrated with examples from across the period, Gillian Russell examines the emergence of the cultural category of printed ephemera, its relationship with forms of sociability, the history of the book, and ideas of what constituted the boundaries of literature and literary value. Russell explores the role of contemporary collectors such as Sarah Sophia Banks in preserving such material, arguing for ‘ephemerology’ as a distinctive strand of popular antiquarianism. Multi-disciplinary in scope, The Ephemeral Eighteenth Century reveals new perspectives on the history of theatre, the fiction of Maria Edgeworth and Jane Austen, and on the history of bibliography, as well as highlighting the continuing relevance of the concept of ephemerality to how we connect through social media today.

Gillian Russell is Professor of English at the University of York. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, she is internationally renowned for her innovative interdisciplinary research that began with The Theatres of War: Performance, Culture, and Society, 1793–1815 (1995). She has pioneered field-changing new directions in scholarship—on war and theatre and on the study of sociability. Her books include Romantic Sociability: Social Networks and Literary Culture, 1770–1840 (Cambridge, 2002), co-edited with Clara Tuite; Women, Sociability, and Theatre in Georgian London (Cambridge, 2007); and Tracing War in British Enlightenment and Romantic Culture, co-edited with Neil Ramsey (2015).



Introduction: All the Ephemera of Our Lives
1  Accidental Readings and Diurnal Historiographies: The Invention of Ephemera
2  Making Collections: Enlightenment Ephemerology
3  The Natural History of Sociability: Sarah Sophia Banks and Her Ephemera Collections
4  Sarah Sophia Banks’s ‘Magic Encyclopedia’
5  ‘Announcing Each Day the Performance’: Playbills as Theatre/Media History
6  Transacting Hospitality: The Novel Networks of the Visiting Card
7  England in 1814: Frost Fairs, Peace, and Persuasion




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