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Material TransgressionsBeyond Romantic Bodies, Genders, Things$
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Kate Singer, Ashley Cross, and Suzanne Barnett

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621778

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621778.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 21 May 2022

Affect in the Margins

Affect in the Margins

Marking Readers in the Elegiac Sonnets

(p.53) Chapter Two Affect in the Margins
Material Transgressions

Michael Gamer

Katrina O’Loughlin

Liverpool University Press

The marks left by readers in their personal copies of Charlotte Smith’s Elegiac Sonnets provide traces of how manuscript engages print, and readers materially engage writers, in the Romantic period. Surveying 152 copies of Elegiac Sonnets and other contemporary sonnet collections by Bowles, Robinson, and Seward, this essay considers how marginalia challenges us to reconsider how readers used books—and how books might use their readers—in soliciting and forging affective relationships through print. We chronicle Smith’s careful recollecting and reframing of her own poetry in printed editions, a practice which seems to have licensed readers in turn to change how they responded to her verse. Why did Smith’s readers mark, interleave, or otherwise thicken their copies more often and with greater urgency than the readers of other late eighteenth-century sonneteers, particularly as the Elegiac Sonnets grew? Tracing these various annotations, from the most conventional to the most transgressive, heightens our historical sense of the dynamism of Smith’s publishing practice and illuminates the sentimental and aesthetic bonds she formed with readers. It also, we argue, exposes something more radical: a blurring of lines between persona and poet, author and reader, and between book-writer and book-owner.

Keywords:   Charlotte Smith, Elegiac Sonnets, Sonnet Collections, Marginalia, Reading, Thickening, Affect

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