The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Culture explores
the burgeoning eighteenth-century fascination with the human body
as an eloquent, expressive object. This wide-ranging study examines
the role of the body within a number of cultural arenas -
particularly oratory, the theatre and the novel - and charts the
efforts of projectors and reformers who sought to exploit the
textual potential of the body for the public assertion of modern
politeness. Paul Goring shows how diverse writers and performers
including David Garrick, James Fordyce, Samuel Richardson, Sarah
Fielding and Laurence Sterne were involved in the construction of
new ideals of physical eloquence - bourgeois, sentimental ideals
which stood in contrast to more patrician, classical bodily modes.
Through innovative readings of fiction and contemporary manuals on
acting and public speaking, Goring reveals the ways in which the
human body was treated as an instrument for the display of
sensibility and polite values.
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