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The Letters of the Republic

The Letters of the Republic

Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America

Michael Warner

ISBN 9780674527867

Publication date: 01/01/1992

The subject of Michael Warner’s book is the rise of a nation. America, he shows, became a nation by developing a new kind of reading public, where one becomes a citizen by taking one’s place as writer or reader. At heart, the United States is a republic of letters, and its birth can be dated from changes in the culture of printing in the early eighteenth century. The new and widespread use of print media transformed the relations between people and power in a way that set in motion the republican structure of government we have inherited. Examining books, pamphlets, and circulars, he merges theory and concrete analysis to provide a multilayered view of American cultural development.


  • Michael Warner’s compact discourse on the meaning of the printed word in eighteenth-century America will be recognized by every reader as an extraordinarily ingenious contribution, and one of lasting lasting importance, to the study of republicanism and to the history of print… Warner’s notion of a socially and culturally limited ‘public sphere,’ inhabited by participants in a depersonalized, largely printed discourse, not only rings true to the evidence but provides a powerful aid in articulating the nature and limits of republicanism.

    —Charles E. Clark, William & Mary Quarterly


  • Michael Warner is Seymour H. Knox Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University. He is the editor of American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King and Fear of a Queer Planet. He also writes for The Nation, The Advocate, The Village Voice, and other periodicals.

Book Details

  • 224 pages
  • 6 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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