Ian Newman on Taverns as Institutions

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By msangster

(Our first contribution looking forward to the ‘Institutions as Curators’ workshop is from Ian Newman of the University of Notre Dame, to whom we’re very grateful for these wide-ranging reflections on taverns as literary institutions.)

Samuel Johnson’s Club, founded at the Turk’s Head Tavern in Gerrard Street in 1764, was frequently referred to by its members the “literary club.” As Charles Burney explained, it was Johnson’s wish that the Club “should be composed of the heads of every liberal and literary profession that we might not talk nonsense on any subject that might be started, but have somebody to refer to in our doubts and discussions, by whose Science we might be enlightened.”[1] Exactly what Burney meant by “liberal and literary professions” or indeed “Science” isn’t entirely clear, but given the presence in the Club of musicians like Burney himself, artists like Joshua Reynolds, actors like David Garrick, and aesthetic theorists and politicians like Edmund Burke, it is evident that the lines between disciplines were far less anxiously patrolled than they would become later, and “literariness” was a helpfully capacious quality which might encompass every possible subject.

The breadth of what “literature” could mean in the eighteenth …read more

Source:: http://institutionsofliterature.net/2017/02/20/ian-newman-on-taverns-as-institutions/