Thursday Lecture Series

Byproducts and the Novel from Defoe to Richardson

Thursday, The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

Turner’s talk, “Byproducts and the Novel from Defoe to Richardson,” draws from her current book project, The Salvaging Disposition: Waste and the Novel Form, in which she argues for the central importance of waste to the cultural, social, and economic transformations that took place over the course of the long eighteenth century. In this talk, she argues that Samuel Richardson adapted the commercial logic of salvaging in order to reconceive the literary domain as a set of materials itself in need of maintenance. In doing so, Richardson developed the notion of literary plotting as a mechanism for recollecting textual byproducts—the discarded characters and sequences of events generated by episodic fiction. By making the recovery of these characters a condition of narrative closure, Richardson’s novel helped to establish a literary framework in which disparate persons could appear both as the components of a single plot and as members of a social totality more generally.

Image: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London