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The Taxonomy of Titles in the 18th Century Literary Marketplace

About the project

Status: archive

Project team: Mark Algee-Hewitt, Laura Eidem, Ryan Heuser, Anita Law, Tanya Llewellyn;

Start date: Jun 1, 2016

End date: Jun 15, 2018

Last updated: Dec 31, 2016

This project investigates the relationship between title and text in eighteenth-century fiction. Is it merely a convention of the literary marketplace that certain books are labeled as “novel”, “romance” or “tale” – or do these terms point to formal and thematic features of the texts themselves? And how do these self-applied 18th century genre labels relate to the categories of contemporary criticism? Our use of the Eighteenth-Century Collections Online has given us access to a much wider range of texts than previously available, allowing to trace the emergence of fictional genres from the milieu of eighteenth-century writing. Our study of the shifts in meaning and function of the individual labels seeks to both question the “rise of the novel” narratives still current in literary history, and to problematize the idea of eighteenth-century “genres” of writing.