Publishing Research Quarterly

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 259–260 | Cite as

Christina Lupton: Knowing Books: The Consciousness of Mediation in Eighteenth-Century Britain

University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2012, 184 pp, Hardcover, $55.00, ISBN: 978-0-8122-4372-7
  • Casey BrienzaEmail author

“The text expects.” “The text demands.” “The text requires.” I heard numerous variations on these sentence constructions bandied about while attending a recent lecture in a humanities department at the University of Cambridge, and the ostensible purpose of this rhetoric confused me. After all, texts are not sentient beings; they do not have the cognitive capacity to expect, to demand, or to require. Yet when I pointed out the logical impossibility of a text thinking or desiring anything, the lecturer in question replied with the following, “I have seen enough texts produced over the years to know that there is no such thing as authorial intent.”

In other words, a text cannot be reduced to the conscious production of a single author. It is, rather, embedded within a complex web of social relations. Now, I am a sociologist of cultural production, so I need no convincing of the merits of such an argument. But the idea that the absence of an author somehow then justifies the existence of a...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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