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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Reading under the Blackened Mess: Revision and the Eighteenth-Century Novel

Hilary Havens, Assistant ProfessorCollege of Arts & Sciences - English
Criticism of the eighteenth-century novel and work in the burgeoning field of print culture have often neglected the importance of the process of revision, perhaps because the “actual sight of…revisions,” as D. A. Miller memorably describes it, can be “nonetheless as disturbing as if, at the bottom of a vase filled with beautifully arranged flowers, we had caught a glimpse of thin filigrees of blood where the stems had been cut.”  Using empirical textual evidence, I will show how these “disturbing” acts of revision reveal insights about an author’s creative process through their intersections with social networks, literary reviews, serial publication, and the author’s own previous writings. This project, which aims to construct a new narrative about the eighteenth-century creative mind, makes use of my development of new digital paleographical methodologies to recover deleted text, which are a contribution to the field of digital humanities.

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