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As I will argue, Romantic-era collections of poetry were not just metaphorically but also materially conditioned by the projects of botanical collecting, preservation, classification, description, and illustration of the previous century.Editors legitimated their selection and organization of poems in collections by trading on the aesthetic paradigms and material practices of botanical science and art.
Critics have frequently used literary anthologies to take the pulse of the eighteenth-century book trade: printed anthologies and miscellanies proliferated throughout the period, and the forms they took responded (at least in part) to ongoing legal disputes over publishers’ rights to valuable literary property, increases in literacy and access, and changing technologies of print.
Scholars agree that the form and function of the anthology shifted in the decades around 1800, but they disagree about exactly when it occurred, how it was manifested, and what provoked this change.
It is now commonplace to say that the canon wars of the 1980s and early 1990s provoked changes to anthologies in the following decades.
What we read in the Norton, Blackwell, or Broadview anthologies of British or American literature is not what we read thirty years ago.
Scholars of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century poetic collections have noted the abundance of botanical metaphors, even occasionally employing them to structure their own arguments about literary compilations.
Most studies of poetic collections in Britain before the twentieth century, however, focus on a set of issues common to miscellanies and anthologies: the economics of the publishing market, changes in copyright law, canon formation, expanding readerships, and editorial practice.
John D’Agata is the editor of The Making of the American Essay, the author of Halls of Fame and The Lifespan of a Fact, and the editor of The Next American Essay and The Lost Origins of the Essay.
This book consists of a collection of small essays of place drawn from two continents - Australia and North America.
Even with the addition of thematic sections, anthologized literature as we know it today remains fundamentally historical, and each selection implicitly functions as a representative specimen, an illustrative example standing in for a larger authorial corpus or class of work.
The justification for a literary collection based on historical representativeness—the legitimating force behind modern anthologies of English, American, or Anglophone literature—emerged in Britain around 1800.