James Gillray, "New Morality," The Anti-Jacobin Review, 1797

Recently Completed Projects

Re-Viewing Thomas Holcroft, 1745-1809: Essays on His Life and Works
Eds. Miriam L. Wallace and A. A. Markley

This collection reassesses Thomas Holcroft’s contributions to a remarkable range of literary genres—drama, poetry, fiction, autobiography, political philosophy— and to the project of revolutionary reform in the late eighteenth century. Aiming to revive scholarly attention to this important transitional figure, this edition collects in one site the best current critical scholarship engaging Holcroft’s varied oeuvre and provides contextual material such as an updated and corrected chronology and key images that  enables more concerted and focused future scholarship or teaching.

The work of Thomas Holcroft is not merely important because he himself was such a remarkable figure, but because he was a hinge-figure himself between laboring Britons and the dissenting intelligentsia, between Enlightenment traditions and developing “Romantic” concerns, between the world of self-made hack writers and that of established critics. Taken together, the essays in this collection situate Holcroft’s self-fashioning as a member of London’s literati, his central role among the London radical reformers and intelligentsia, and his theatrical innovations within ongoing explorations of the late eighteenth-century public sphere of belles lettres and debate.

Contributors include:
Anne Chandler, Philip Cox, Hilary Fezzey, Antonia Forster, Diane Long Hoeveler, Rick Incorvati, A. A. Markley, Ian Newman, Jonathan Sachs, W. M. Verhoeven, Miriam L. Wallace, and Jeremy Webster. Essays range from considerations of Holcroft's poetry, drama, novels, translations, memoirs, and literary reviews to the art of theatrical illustration as exemplified by illustrations from his late play, A Tale of Mystery, and even a consideration of his "proto-Marxism."

available for ordering now

Current Projects

Speaking Subjects and Criminal Conversations

This project explores the intersection of variant discursive fields, particularly oratory and public political speech, and  fictive and legal discourses. I'm interested in metaphors of translation, ventriloquism, and linguistic "passing" as connected to the advent of a public political realm that aimed to reform political or legal institutions.
Sites where spoken or written language are construed as improper, illicit, or even criminal in the later eighteenth century are of particular interest: trials for "constructive" treason or "criminal conversation" and other legal fictions, suspicion towards silence where speech is compelled or its truthfulness a matter of oaths, translations into English and theoretical statements on the function of translation, restrictively gendered or raced rhetoric (i.e. attacks on some kinds of speech as "effeminate," representations of dialect that authorizes or deauthorizes the speaker), women's engagement with legal speech in fiction, canting speech and canting dictionaries, grammars or oratory instruction directed to those excluded from certain kinds of speaking or writing, representations and documentation of societies for debate and spouting societies. I'm also working on problems of embodied speech, from  period elocution handbooks and John Thelwall's writing on speech impediments, to satirical prints of speakers both institutionally authorized and those depicted as illicit. Finally, I'm interested in the way that rethinking speech  by attending also to the corporeal aspects of the speaking subject places the emphasis not solely on language as the actor, but on the speaking body as a site where culture is made.