This Is Enlightenment
Edited by Clifford Siskin and William Warner University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress B802.T468 2010 | Dewey Decimal 190.9033
Debates about the nature of the Enlightenment date to the eighteenth century, when Imanual Kant himself addressed the question, “What is Enlightenment?” The contributors to this ambitious book offer a paradigm-shifting answer to that now-famous query: Enlightenment is an event in the history of mediation. Enlightenment, they argue, needs to be engaged within the newly broad sense of mediation introduced here—not only oral, visual, written, and printed media, but everything that intervenes, enables, supplements, or is simply in between.
With essays addressing infrastructure and genres, associational practices and protocols, this volume establishes mediation as the condition of possibility for enlightenment. In so doing, it not only answers Kant’s query; it also poses its own broader question: how would foregrounding mediation change the kinds and areas of inquiry in our own epoch? This Is Enlightenment is a landmark volumewith the polemical force and archival depth to start a conversation that extends across the disciplines that the Enlightenment itself first configured.
William Warner’s Syrinx, or a Sevenfold History, may be the first English novel. Unlike others of the time, though, Warner wrote a realistic novel whose ancestors include the adventure stories of Alexandrine romance, and focus not on the tales of an aristocratic class but on the lives of middle-class individuals. Wallace A. Bacon’s critical edition brings Warner’s important novel—with its young protagonists being dragged through many adventures, tried and tested by Fortune, with their tales being brought to a close by auspicious gods—to life, preserving it and introducing it to new generations of readers. Bacon’s critical apparatus, including an extensive introduction, provides significant context for Warner’s work, assessing its key role in the history of the novel and in the history of early modern literature.