Publication details [#10764]

Torn, Jon L. 2008. The pleasures of spectatorship: Joseph Addison and public culture. Evanston, Ill.. 250 pp.
Publication type
Ph.D dissertation
Publication language


This dissertation focuses on the contribution of Joseph Addison and his London newspaper The Spectator to the modern "social imaginaries" (Charles Taylor) of public, market and nation. Addison's championing of perspicacity in prose and detachment in aesthetic judgment created protocols of "stranger sociality" (Michael Warner) that made participation in these social imaginaries possible. Addison is placed in dialogue with such figures in philosophy and rhetoric as Cicero, Ramus, Montaigne, Kant, and Machiavelli. The Spectator is the primary text examined, but Addison's juvenilia and political writing are also cited. The Spectator 's reliance on a visual paradigm of communication can be interpreted as establishing modernist dogmas with regard to three functions of rhetoric, production, reception and constitution: (1) the transmission model of communication, (2) the detached, impartial nature of the reflective spectator, and (3) the universal underpinnings of the liberal model of citizenship. These modernist dogmas share a visual organizing metaphor: they presuppose a transparency of the communication process in which signification is noise, attachment is bias, and faction is chaos. Addison, it is argued, has a place in the history of rhetoric as an exemplar of a uniquely modern form of eloquence. (Dissertation Abstracts)