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The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Culture
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  • Page extent: 236 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.52 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: n/a
  • Dewey version: n/a
  • LC Classification: n/a
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Body, Human, in literature--History--18th century
    • Sensitivity (Personality trait)--History--18th century
    • Body, Human--Social aspects--Great Britain--History--18th century
    • Body, Human--Symbolic aspects--Great Britain--History--18th century
    • Sensitivity (Personality trait)

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521845090 | ISBN-10: 0521845092)

The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Culture explores the burgeoning eighteenth-century fascination with the human body as an eloquent, expressive object. This wide-ranging study examines the role of the body within a number of cultural arenas - particularly oratory, the theatre and the novel - and charts the efforts of projectors and reformers who sought to exploit the textual potential of the body for the public assertion of modern politeness. Paul Goring shows how diverse writers and performers including David Garrick, James Fordyce, Samuel Richardson, Sarah Fielding and Laurence Sterne were involved in the construction of new ideals of physical eloquence - bourgeois, sentimental ideals which stood in contrast to more patrician, classical bodily modes. Through innovative readings of fiction and contemporary manuals on acting and public speaking, Goring reveals the ways in which the human body was treated as an instrument for the display of sensibility and polite values.


Preface; Introduction; 1. Spectacular passions: eighteenth-century oratory and the reform of eloquence; 2. Bodies on the borders of politeness: 'Orator Henley', Methodist enthusiasm and polite literature; 3. Thomas Sheridan: forging the British body; 4. The art of acting: mid-century stagecraft and the broadcast of feeling; 5. Polite reading: sentimental fiction and the performance of response; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.

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