The Introduction draws upon recent work in the fields of book history, literary and media studies, textual scholarship and digital humanities, to advance the fundamental thesis of early modern scholars – that manuscript production and circulation continued long after the advent of print. It also supports the consensus of media historians – that newer media (such as print) did not overtake and subsume older media forms (such as manuscript). Repudiating a ‘decline and rise’ or ‘succession’ model of technological change, this book instead posits a model characterized by media interaction and exchange. Taking Romantic-era literary manuscript culture and its inevitable entanglement with print as its central subject, the subsequent six chapters examine the literary manuscripts and writing practices of several central Romantic authors, and the shifting set of cultural and political conditions they faced. In doing so, this study presents a new account of literary Romanticism, one that recalibrates accounts of individual authors’ works, careers and practices; reconstructs networks of authors, editors, publishers and readers; and reconfigures concepts of privacy, sociability and publicity. It also addresses how the expanding print culture of the late eighteenth century impacted both the practices and the values ascribed to manuscript culture.
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