Periodicals, the Book Trade, and the 'Bourgeois Public Sphere'

Downie, Alan (J. A.). 2008. Periodicals, the Book Trade, and the 'Bourgeois Public Sphere'. Media History, 14(3), pp. 261-274. ISSN 1368-8804 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Despite recent assertions about the new prospects opened up by the literary periodicals which emerged in the years immediately following the expiry in 1695 of the Licensing of Print Act, it is apparent that, right through to the 1740s, writing for the stage remained the best prospect for a writer hoping to make a living by the pen. We should therefore be cautious before we make sweeping generalizations either about the profits to be made out of periodical publication or the expanding opportunities they presebted for professional writers, let alone about the role of the periodical essays of Addison and Steele in the emergence of 'a bourgeois public sphere' in which hierarchy was suspended, and which was accessible to all. Despite The Spectator's advocacy of polite rational exchange, historical consideration of the periodical press at this time reveals a high degree of political partisanship.

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Identification Number (DOI):


periodicals; eighteenth century; earnings; public sphere; politics; Habermas

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature
Research Office > REF2014


December 2008Published

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Date Deposited:

30 Sep 2010 12:35

Last Modified:

23 Jun 2017 15:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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