Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

The Transformation of Authorship in America

Did the emergence of a free press liberate eighteenth-century American authors? Most critics and historians have assumed so. In a study certain to force a rethinking of early American literary culture, Grantland S. Rice overturns this dominant view. Rice argues that the lapse of Puritan censorship, the consolidation of copyright law, and the explosion of a commercial print culture confronted writers in the new United States with a striking predicament: the depoliticization and commodification of public expression.

Rice shows that the rigorous censorship practiced by Puritan authorities conferred an implicit prestige on texts as civic interventions, helping to foster a vigorous and indigenous tradition of sociopolitical criticism. With special attention to the sudden emergence of the novel in post-revolutionary America, Rice reveals how the emergence of economic liberalism undermined the earlier tradition of political writing by transforming American authorship from an expression of individual civic conscience to a market-oriented profession.

Includes discussions of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur, and Hugh Henry Brackenridge.

237 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1997

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. I: The Transformation of Authorship
1: The World Turned Upside Down: Sociopolitical Criticism in Puritan America
2: The Rise of a Free Press and the Erosion of a Public Sphere: The Zenger Case Reconsidered
3: Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and Republican Print Rationality
4: Liberalism and Republication: The Problem of Copyright for Authorship in America
Pt. II: The Aesthetic Response
5: Crevecoeur and Strategies of Accommodation
6: Brackenridge and the Resistance to Textual Authority
Pt. III: The Rhetoric of Fiction
7: Authorial Coquetry and the Early American Novel
Afterword
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press