Minerva’s Gothics

The Politics and Poetics of Romantic Exchange, 1780-1820

Elizabeth A. Neiman

Minerva’s Gothics

Elizabeth A. Neiman

Distributed for University of Wales Press

304 pages | 16 illustrations | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2018
Cloth $96.00 ISBN: 9781786833679 Published May 2019 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
Between 1790 and 1820, William Lane’s Minerva Press published an unprecedented number of new novels by female authors. Reading these novels for their shared popular conventions demonstrates that circulating-library novelists collectively recirculate, engage and modify commonplaces about women’s nature, the social order and, most importantly, the very same Romantic redefinitions of literature that still render their novels not worth reading. Elizabeth Neiman’s analysis shows that Minerva novelists write and authorize a collaborative authorial model, and that this model reverberates in Romantic poetics—most notably, Percy Shelley’s portrayal of the idealized poet in A Defence of Poetry.
Review Quotes
Stephen C. Behrendt, University of Nebraska
“Insightfully tracing the commercial commodification of both reading material and the reading activity itself among Romantic-era women readers and writers, Minerva’s Gothics will make an immediate difference to the ways in which we think about Romantic-era fiction, and indeed about Romantic-era reading practices generally.”

 
Jennie Batchelor, University of Kent
Minerva’s Gothics offers a meticulously detailed and methodologically ambitious reassessment of the Minerva imprint, its authors, and its impact. Combining close readings and distant reading strategies, Neiman’s eminently readable and important book exposes the spurious Romantic prejudices that have unfairly pushed Minerva to the margins of literary history.”

 
Christina Morin, University of Limerick
Minerva’s Gothics offers a much-needed and utterly compelling reappraisal of the oft-derided publications of the Minerva Press. Through its combination of exemplary statistical analysis and more traditional qualitative methods, the study presents a persuasive counter-narrative to conventional accounts of Minerva works as sordidly unoriginal, detailing as it does so a new and richly rewarding interpretive lens through which to view Romantic-era popular fiction.”

 
Yael Shapira, Bar-Ilan University
“In Minerva’s Gothics, Elizabeth Neiman offers a revisionary account of Romantic circulating-library fiction, exposing its savvy, self-aware use of narrative formulas and tracing its contribution to the major intellectual debates of the day. Expansive, spirited, and lucid, this book is a vital resource for anyone interested in the history of popular fiction.”
 
Edward Jacobs, Old Dominion University
Minerva’s Gothics combines deeply-researched publication data and other modes of distant reading with elegant close reading both of some fifty largely forgotten novels (most by women) published by the Minerva Press and of some of the most canonical works of British Romanticism. By doing so, Neiman makes clear that the Romantic period was centred in an exchange and dynamic interrelationship between the popular collective (or ‘generic’) model of authorship fostered by the Minerva Press and canonical Romantic writing and theories of individual genius. Minerva’s Gothics is a major advancement both in substance and methodology, and it will henceforth be a de rigueur point of departure for the study of British Romanticism as a period.”

 
Anthony Mandal, Cardiff University
Minerva’s Gothics is the first monograph study in eighty years of one of the most influential yet nearly forgotten publishers of fiction during the Romantic period. In an engaging and timely intervention, Elizabeth Neiman establishes that the true of the Minerva Press during its fifty-year history lay in its unique employment of numerous women authors of purposefully formulaic works, creating a rich and enduring literary network. Nuanced close readings of under-examined Minerva novels against the works of canonical writers (Wordsworth, Wollstonecraft, Shelley) anchor the wider analysis of the Georgian literary marketplace in a compelling and original way. This book will introduce readers who know little about the Minerva Press to vital information regarding its role and significance within Romantic literary culture, while serving those already familiar with the Press with original arguments and fresh analysis that break important new ground.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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