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Project Proposal

The Tatler

Robert DeMaria (English)

Project Description

A New Critical Edition of The Tatler (1709-1711). 

The Tatler was arguably the most important periodical publication of the eighteenth century. It established the periodical essay as a literary form, and it gave rise to the most popular and durable periodical publication of the century, The Spectator. Richard Steele and Joseph Addison are the principal authors of the Tatler, as well as the Spectator, but Jonathan Swift can legitimately be called a founder of the journal: he was an inspiration and an early contributor. Under contract to Cambridge University Press, my project will result in a new standard edition in three volumes of all 276 issues of this important eighteenth-century journal. The work of this summer will mainly be devoted to establishing the text. The editions that must be consulted are available in Special Collections at Vassar. My student assistant this year has made some progress along these lines.

Anticipated Project Activities

The copy-text for this edition is the first octavo edition (1710-11). The first stage of editing is to make accurate transcriptions of the Tatlers in this edition, modified according to the protocols of the edition concerning spelling, italicization, etc. Next, the original folio issues (1709-11)must be compared to the octavo and differences noted. Then, the same must be done with the two separate issues of the duodecimo printings (both 1710-11). All this activity will result in a text on the main part of the page and an apparatus below, listing all variants. Although the process sounds mechanical, it is far from that. Once one starts editing a text like this, issues arise. In some cases, for example, the readings from the folio or the duodecimo will be preferable. In some cases, one will not want to transcribe the octavo text exactly for other reasons. One has to be prepared to say why in individual cases and gradually build up a consistent rationale for the whole edition. 

The next phase in completing the edition is writing the commentary (the explanatory footnotes). I would get started on this during the summer in a limited way in order to show the student (and myself) how a fully edited issue of Tatler will look on completion of the project.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Accuracy and patience are essential skills. Some experience with eighteenth-century British literature is desirable and some knowledge of Latin (and Classics in general) would be helpful.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

I may be away next term. I could arrange for the student to teach a class in a colleague's seminar in the fall, or I could wait until b-term and ask the student to teach a class in my eighteenth-century literature class.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 5, 2017

Project End Date

July 28, 2017