This article explores the role of miscellany collections as aids to recitation and education. It offers an insight into the perceived social and cultural roles of literature in the later eighteenth century, and suggests some of the ways we might use miscellanies to understand the relationship between the practical, educational, and aspirational uses of poetry, and the formation of a literary canon. Recitation miscellanies not only showed readers how to achieve affect, but they also gave them collections of literature to appreciate, and some introduction to the terms on which those readers might value the texts that they encountered. In examining the numerous recital collections of this period, we can see not only the close connection between miscellany publication and the contemporary social vogue for reading aloud, but also the ways in which miscellany texts mediated a whole range of cultural concerns, from social aspiration, to moral rectitude.

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