Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2009


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Susan Howard

Committee Member

Laura Engel

Committee Member

Anne Brannen


Colonial Literature, Eighteenth-Century Family, Eighteenth-Century Literature, Memoirs and Autobiography, Textual Studies and Editing, Women and Authorship


Scholarly editions became entrenched as published texts during the eighteenth century. This dissertation considers the contributions of editors to their specific editions and, ultimately, the editorial project. Forty-five editions, some well-known and some obscure, are critically and bibliographically analyzed in four cross-referenced chapters. The first chapter deals with editions of autobiography and memoirs. The second chapter examines editions of women's texts. Chapter three focuses on family editions (in which the editor is a family member of the author), and the fourth and final chapter addresses colonial editions. Such a study reveals that eighteenth-century editors were interested in diverse texts. Furthermore, statements by editors about editorial method, textual transmission, and historical context appear consistently in prefaces to these editions. Considering such paratextual statements further clarifies how editors emended texts and framed texts for an eighteenth-century readership who may have been uncomfortable or ambivalent about the subject matter or the reputation of the author. In some instances, editors attempted to inspire readers to continue reading an edition by praising the virtue or talent of the author. In other instances, editors anticipated reader anxiety regarding a socially subversive edition. As a result, these editorial voices intrude in the edition in fascinating and occasionally troubling ways. While I was not able to exonerate these editors, as they more often than not provided vague information about textual emendations, I can unequivocally assert that editors were aware of their relationship to the text. They often express a sense of discomfort about changing the text of a given manuscript. They were also aware to varying degrees that their prefaces were a significant element of the edition and that their prefaces shaped a reader's experience.