The College of Arts and Social Sciences' Second Professoriate Lecture of 2016
The opening decades of the nineteenth century, which we know as the Age of Romanticism in Britain, was also the great age of periodical literature – The Periodical Enlightenment – at the centre of which were the Edinburgh Review (est. 1802), the Quarterly Review (1809), Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (or Maga) (1817), and the Westminster Review (1824), each offering a politically-inflected conspectus of current knowledge and creative literature that was often aggressively argumentative and assumed greater authority than either the author or the reader.
The big Reviews were by no means the only places where the Romantic reader could find clever, scathing, but often well-informed and well-argued reviews, which contributed to the high degree of literary self-consciousness we associate with Romantic literature.
This lecture looks at the phenomenon of critical reviewing during the Periodical Enlightenment (aka the Romantic period), at the mythologies that grew up around critical reviewing as an institution, and at some of the ramifications of its severity for the evolution of creative literature.
Will Christie is Head of the Humanities Research Centre and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.
Before coming to the ANU he was Professor of English Literature at the University of Sydney and founding president of the Romantic Studies Association of Australasia (RSAA).
His publications include Samuel Taylor Coleridge: A Literary Life (2006) – awarded the NSW Premier’s Biennial Prize for Literary Scholarship – The Edinburgh Review in the Literary Culture of Romantic Britain (2009), Dylan Thomas: A Literary Life (2014), and The Two Romanticisms and Other Essays (2016).