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Poetics of the Pillory – English Literature and Seditious Libel, 1660-1820 - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Poetics of the Pillory: English Literature and Seditious Libel, 1660-1820

Thomas Keymer


On the lapse of the Licensing Act in 1695, Thomas Macaulay wrote in his History of England, ‘English literature was emancipated, and emancipated for ever, from the control of the government’. It’s certainly true that the system of prior restraint enshrined in this Restoration measure was now at an end, at least for print. Yet the same cannot be said of government control, which came to operate instead by means of post-publication retribution, not pre-publication licensing, notably for the common-law offence of seditious libel. For many of the authors affected, from Defoe to Cobbett, this new r ... More

Keywords: censorship, seditious libel, pillory, irony, satire, ambiguity, encoding, book history, print culture, eighteenth-century literature

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2019 Print ISBN-13: 9780198744498
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198744498.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Thomas Keymer, author
Chancellor Henry N. R. Jackman University Professor of English, University of Toronto