Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities
2007—2008 Forum on Origins
Waverley and the Object of (Literary) History
This talk focuses on Scott's first novel in relation to his career as failed anthology-maker, reprint-tycoon, and canon-builder, and originator of historical fiction. Seminar participants do not need to have read Waverley; Or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since; I'll provide summaries and passages with which we may work. I'm especially interested in Waverley's self-proclaimed identity as an origin -- in this case a new genre -- and in what it means for an author to claim no generic affiliation with his contemporaries or immediate predecessors. I take up these questions in the context of Scott's extremely detailed (and almost entirely fictitious) stories of the novel's inception and composition. This presentation is part of a book project on Romantic collected works and the copyright reforms of 1774 and 1808.