UCL English


Research Seminar: Luisa Signorelli - Shakespeare’s Eighteenth Century Hack Writers

15 December 2022, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm

The Distrest Poet by William Hogarth

This event is open to members of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at UCL.

Event Information

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Invitation Only


Department of English


Student Common Room, FC229
Malet Place

By means of mistranslation, anti-elitism, and mutual slander, eighteenth-century ‘hack writers’ and compilers of literary collections Edward Bysshe, Charles Gildon, and the unfortunate William Dodd shaped Shakespeare’s rise to the editorial canon in often unorthodox ways. By repudiating the traditional model of erudition based on classical education, these ‘unlearned’ editors displaced the notion of literary refinement from antiquity to vernacular literature – all to the advantage of the sales of their publications. While the skirmish between Bysshe and Gildon contributed to the conceptualisation of a primitive genealogy of English literature, Dodd replicated the ‘populistic’ approach of his predecessors to displace the evaluative duty of the editor from the learned critic to the public. By negotiating contemporary notions of literary criticism to legitimise their editorial labours, these writers elevated Shakespeare’s position in the literary pantheon, but also their own reputation.

This event is open to members of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at UCL, and no pre-booking is required.