This study interprets eighteenth-century satire’s famous typographical obsession as a fraught response to the Enlightenment’s "ocularcentric" epistemological paradigms, as well as to a print-cultural moment identified by book-historians as increasingly "visual" — a moment at which widespread attention was being paid, for the first time, to format, layout, and eye-catching advertising strategies. On the one hand, the Augustans were convinced of the ability of their elaborately printed texts to function as a kind of optical machinery rivaling that of the New Science, enhancing readers’ physical but also moral vision. On the other hand, they feared that an overly scrutinizing gaze might undermine the viewer’s natural faculty for candor and sympathy, delight and desire. In readings of Pope, Swift, and Montagu, Mannheimer shows how this distrust of the empirical gaze led to a reconsideration of the ethics, and most specifically the gender politics, of ocularcentrism. Whereas Montagu effected this reconsideration by directly satirizing both the era’s faith in the visual and its attendant publishing strategies, Pope and Swift pursued their critique via print itself: thus whether via facing-page translations, fictional editors, or disingenuous footnotes, these writers sought to ensure that typography never became either a mere tool of (or target for) the objectifying gaze, but rather that it remained a dynamic and interactive medium by which readers could learn both to see and to see themselves seeing.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1: From Speech-Act to Spectacle: Changing Modes of Satire at the Turn of the Eighteenth Century 2: Swift’s Tableaux, Montagu’s Table-Turning: Verse, Visuality, and Gender 3: Augustan Satire’s Textual Bodies: The Quest for an Ethics of the Eye 4: Pedagogies of Paranoia, Spaces of Adjudication: Swift and Pope’s Typographical Training-Grounds of the Gaze 5: "That Spirit He Pretends to Imitate": Pope, Montagu, and the Letter and the Spirit of the Law 6: Crossing Stage and Page: Pope’s Four-Book Dunciad and the Critique of "Absorptive" Textuality Coda: Theatricalized Print and the Reciprocal Gaze: Gender Politics in Pope’s Printed Playhouse
Katherine Mannheimer is an assistant Professor of English at the University of Rochester, USA.