TITLE

The Novel-Reading Panic in 18th-Century in England: An Outline of an Early Moral Media Panic

AUTHOR(S)
Vogrinčič, Ana
PUB. DATE
December 2008
SOURCE
Medijska Istrazivanja/Media Research;2008, Vol. 14 Issue 2, p103
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The article explores the unfavourable reaction to the popularisation of novel-reading in 18th-century England in order to show that the outraged opposition to this leisure praxis could be understood in terms of the contemporary sociological concept - 'moral panic' - thereby revealing novel-reading as an early version of popular media culture. After outlining the cultural context of 18th - century England as well as the main characteristics of its novels, the paper discerns the anxieties, arising from the passion for fiction, and lays out the argumentation supporting the fear of reading as was advocated by the moral heralds of the time. The analysis reveals that the oppositional reaction to novel-reading indeed encompassed all the key constitutive elements of the proper moral panic phenomenon. Maintaining a dialogue between 18th-century and the present, the essay concludes by drawing analogies with contemporary reactions to television viewing, linking the worried response to the spread of novels with another related notion, the media panic, thus showing that what came to be seen as a feature of the modern (20th and 21st century) mass media culture has in fact a much longer history.
ACCESSION #
36386201

 

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