Geoffrey Turnovsky

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20022003 Forum on The Book

Geoffrey Turnovsky


Ph.D., Columbia University, 2001

The Enlightenment "Literary Market:" Conceptualization of a Modern Cultural Field in France

How does the notion of authorship change as a result of commercialization? In the latter half of the 18th century, the “literary market” was increasingly becoming an integral part of French authors’ mental landscape. This “market” did not represent an external sphere equivalent to the Book Trade, but rather an intellectual construct or imagined space. Such a shift worked to modernize authorial practices. However, Enlightenment-era writers did not perceive the “market” in a homogeneous manner, and contradictory attitudes ranged from financial liberation to publication anxiety.

Dr. Turnovsky traces this conceptual transformation of the Book Trade into a notion of the “literary market.” He focuses on how this process was affected by the changing hopes and fears of writers as these were altered by upheavals in the Enlightenment literary universe, notably by the decline of the traditional literary institutions and rise of commercial publishing. Ultimately, approaching the “literary market” as primarily a product of authorial expectations provides an opportunity to move beyond the posited opposition between Art and Commerce.

Courses: Spectacle & Enlightenment