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AMS Press, Inc.
25 Van Zant Street, Unit 1B3
Norwalk, CT 06855-1702

The Sensational Centuries

Essays on the Enhancement of Sense Experience in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries

Edited by
Kevin L. Cope

With editorial contributions by
Robert C. Leitz, III

LC 2012014409
ISBN-10: 0-404-64866-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-404-64866-4

AMS Studies in the Eighteenth Century, No. 66

The long period of “enlightenment” that extended from the rise of organized science to the emergence of Gilbert and Sullivan operas lauded reason and commended reflection but depended on sensation. A remarkably broad range of intellectual and cultural activity, whether the critical philosophy of John Locke or the rapturous poetry of John Keats, genuflected to the tame abstraction “experience” but gave full credit to raw sense for the sustaining of art, writing, and thought.

Universally invoked as everything from evidence to inspiration, “sensation” became the watchword of modernization. The Sensational Centuries offers a portfolio of essays on the twists, turns, and metamorphoses of the idea and theme of “sensation” during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, paying special attention to the evolution of sensationalism as an artistic and philosophical movement and examining the many curious and revealing cultural productions resulting from this intense interest in the varieties of sense.

Three generous sections include essays examining the literary and artistic genres arising from the cult of sense; the exploration of venues in which extreme, unusual, or offbeat sensations could occur; and the actions that result from the pursuit of sensational experience and the cultivation of a sensationalist art. The volume thus shows how the conversation about sensationalism continued loudly and volubly across diverse traditions and without regard for confining literary, cultural, religious, and artistic traditions—thereby defining an era.


Part One: Sensational Genres, Sensational Traditions

David Hill Radcliffe, “The Pleasures of Repetition: Novelty and Repetition in the Poems of the Pleasures”
David Venturo, “Varieties of Sense Experience, from Milton and Hobbes to Keats”
Kathryn R. King, “When Eliza Met Aaron: A Story of Sublime Sensation”

Part Two: The Habitats of Sensation

Kevin L. Cope, “Loads of, no, not Shadwell, but Shells Paved the Way: The Deflective Power of ‘Junk’ in Long Eighteenth-Century Geological Speculation and in Dryden’s Religious Rhymes”
Sayre N. Greenfield, “The Cessation of Sensation: Or, Not to Be”
Howard D. Weinbrot, “‘Root out This Cursed Race’: Defoe’s Shortest Way with the Dissenters and His Longer Way with Himself”
Anne Barbeau Gardiner, “Richard Langhorne and the Popish Plot”

Part Three: Sensational Action

Colby H. Kullman, “Norm Figures in William Hogarth’s Satiric Engravings”
Edward T. Larkin, “Sense and Supersensibility in the Eighteenth-Century City: Johann Pezzl’s Skizze von Wien (1786–1790)”
Linda Veronika Troost, “An Entirely New and Splendid Spectacle, Founded on the Subject of the French Revolution: The Fall of the Bastille on the London Stage”