This volume questions and qualifies commonly accepted assumptions about the early modern English sonnet: that it was a strictly codified form, most often organised in sequences, which emerged only at the very end of the sixteenth century and declined as fast as it had bloomed at the turn of the century – and that minor poets merely participated in the sonnet fashion by replicating established conventions. Drawing from book history, using the tools of close reading and textual criticism, it aims to offer a more nuanced history of the form in early modern England – and especially of the so-called ‘sonnet craze’. It does so by exploring the works of such major poets as Shakespeare, Sidney and Spenser but also of lesser-studied sonneteers such as Barnabe Barnes and Gabriel Harvey. It discusses how sonnets were written, published, received and repurposed in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, taking into account interactions with the French and Italian literary traditions. The collection also discusses current editorial practices and provides the first modern edition of an early seventeenth-century Elizabethan miscellany which claims the Earl of Essex, Spenser and ‘S.P.S.’ (presumably Sir Philp Sidney) as authors.
As first published in 1579, Spenser’s verbal-visual Shepheardes Calender is a most extraordinary early modern book, and its particular characteristics have major interpretive importance. This present volume freshly reassesses that first edition as a material text in relation to previous book history, and provides the first clearly detailed facsimile reproduction of it available as a book. Almost all previous surrogates for the 1579 Calender, whether disseminated as printed books, in microfilm, or online, as well as the reproductions of its twelve woodcuts typically included in modern editions, lack sufficient clarity to represent the original book reliably. This problem has especially impaired understanding of the Calender’s pictures, each of which was designed to complement one of Spenser’s twelve eclogues. In this way and others, such as the inclusion of a full commentary on the poetry, the 1579 Calender’s total design as a book radically rethought the bibliographical possibilities for presenting imaginative fiction and new poetry. This volume illuminates its antecedents, development, and production, the profound interconnections of its illustrations and poetry, its redefinition of pastoral, its bold redefinition of the proper role of poets and insistence on the national significance of poetic achievement, its daring political satire, and its creative singularity. For many years to come, An Analyzed Facsimile will be essential for study of Spenser’s Calender, this poet, and his importance for English literary history.
Difficult pasts combines book history, reception history and theories of cultural memory to explore how Reformation-era audiences used medieval literary texts to construct their own national and religious identities. It argues that the medieval romance book became a flexible site of memory for readers after the Protestant Reformation, allowing them to both connect with and distance themselves from the recent ‘difficult past’. Central characters in this study range from canonical authors like Geoffrey Chaucer and Edmund Spenser to less studied figures, such as printer William Copland, Elizabethan scribe Edward Banister and seventeenth-century poet and romance enthusiast, John Lane. In uniting a wide range of romance readers’ perspectives, Difficult pasts complicates clear ruptures between manuscript and print, Catholic and Protestant, or medieval and Renaissance. It concludes that the romance book offers a new way to understand the simultaneous change and continuity that defines post-Reformation England. Overall, Difficult pasts offers an interdisciplinary framework for better understanding the role of physical books and imaginative forms in grappling with the complexities of representing and engaging with the past.
Reorienting the narrative of digital media studies to incorporate the medieval, Participatory reading in late-medieval England traces affinities between digital and medieval media to explore how participation defined reading practices and shaped relations between writers and readers in England’s literary culture from the late-fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries. Traditionally, print operates as the comparative touchstone of both medieval and digital media, but Participatory reading argues that the latter share more in common with each other than either does with print. Working on the borders of digital humanities, medieval cultural studies, and the history of the book, Participatory reading draws on well-known and little-studied works ranging from Chaucer to banqueting poems and wall-texts to demonstrate how medieval writers and readers engaged with practices familiar in digital media today, from crowd-sourced editing to nonlinear apprehension to mobility, temporality, and forensic materiality illuminate. Writers turned to these practices in order to both elicit and control readers’ engagement with their works in ways that would benefit the writers’ reputations along with the transmission and interpretation of their texts, while readers pursued their own agendas—which could conflict with or set aside writers’ attempts to frame readers’ work. The interactions that gather around participatory reading practices reflect concerns about authority, literacy, and media formats, before and after the introduction of print. Participatory reading is of interest to students and scholars of medieval literature, book, and reading history, in addition to those interested in the long history of media studies.
In 1615 the clergyman Jeremiah Dyke exclaimed ‘surely wee never beginne to know Divinitie or Religion, till wee come to know our selves’. His clarion call, and the ‘devotional turn’ in early modern historiography, urges us to look anew at how ordinary men and women lived out their faith in painstaking and sometimes painful ways. People and Piety is an interdisciplinary edited collection that investigates Protestant devotional identities in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. Divided into two sections, it examines the ‘sites’ where these identities were forged (the academy, printing house, household, theatre and prison) and the ‘types’ of texts that expressed them (spiritual autobiographies, religious poetry and writings tied to the ars moriendi), providing a varied and broad analysis of the social, material and literary forms of religious devotion during England’s Long Reformation. Through archival and cutting-edge research, a detailed picture of ‘lived devotion’ emerges. From the period’s most recognisable religious authors (Richard Baxter, George Herbert, Oliver Heywood and Katherine Sutton) to those rarely discussed and recently discovered voices (Isaac Archer, Mary Franklin and Katherine Gell), this book reveals how piety did not define people; it was people who defined their piety. Contributors include internationally recognised scholars from either side of the Atlantic: Sylvia Brown, Vera J. Camden, Bernard Capp, John Coffey, Ann Hughes, N. H. Keeble and William Sheils. To those studying and teaching religion and identity in early modern England, and anyone interested in the history of religious self-expression, this book will be a rich and rewarding read.
Formal Matters is intended as an exploration of the emerging and potential links in early modern literary and cultural studies between the study of material texts on the one hand, and the analysis of literary form on the other. The essays exemplify some of the ways in which an attention to the matter of writing now combines in critical practice with the questioning of its forms: how an interest in forms might combine with an interest in the material text and, more broadly, in matter and things material. Section I, ‘Forming literature’, makes literary and sub-literary forms its focus, examining notions of authorship; ways of reading, consuming, and circulating literary and non-literary material; and modes of creative production and composition made possible by the exigencies of specific forms. Section III, ‘The matters of writing’, examines forms of writing, both literary and non-literary, that grapple with other fields of knowledge, including legal discourse, foreign news and intelligence, geometry, and theology. At stake for the authors in this section is the interface between discourses encoded in, and even produced through, specific textual forms.Linking these two sections are a pair of essays take up the subject of translation, both as a process that transforms textual matter from one formal and linguistic mode to another and as a theorization of the mediation between specific forms, materials, and cultures.
The book explores the relationship between early Victorian popular fiction and radical politics – the way Newgate calendars and novels, penny bloods and crime or ‘low’ literature could intermittently express radical or even Chartist arguments about the need for working-class agency and empowerment. Offering new readings of Jack Sheppard, Sweeney Todd, The Mysteries of London and many other novels and short stories from the 1830s and 1840s, primarily emerging out of London, the book compares the popular to the radical canon, and specifically to a great deal of contemporaneous Chartist fiction. It finds that popular writers and editors attempted to attract a politicised working-class audience by including material that was not only a clear cultural confrontation, a challenge to polite society and middle-class taste, but also a political confrontation that asserted the value of working-class decision making. Understanding Chartism, Victorian Britain’s first nationwide attempt to bring in democracy and challenge the established political order, as a complex, shifting, and internally inconsistent movement, The penny politics of Victorian popular fiction offers a new way to look at the way popular fiction reused or repurposed Chartist and radical narratives. Radicalism and popular culture were in fact both engaged in intricate attempts to capitalise on a constituency of audiences understood to have multiple and expansive aesthetic and political tastes. The book makes clear why and how a popular press would invest in the political and social issues that were finding expression in a popular political movement.
Objects of affection recovers the emotional attraction of the medieval book through an extended engagement with a single fifteenth-century literary collection known as Oxford, Bodleian Library Manuscript Ashmole 61. Exploring how the inhabitants of the book’s pages – human and non-human, tangible and intangible – collaborate with its readers then and now, this book addresses the manuscript’s material appeal in the ways it binds itself to different cultural, historical, and material environments. This new materialist manuscript study traces the affective literacy training that the book, produced by a single scribe, provided to a late medieval English household. Its diverse inhabitants are incorporated into the ecology of the book itself as it fashions spiritually generous and socially mindful household members – in the material world they generate and that guides their living, and in the social and spiritual desires that shape their influences in that world.
the centre of sonnet studies, with overtones of strong formal autonomy and narrative continuity that recent studies in book history tend to undermine rather than confirm. 20 As the present volume shows, this centrality has somewhat obscured other (and perhaps more significant) aspects of English sonneteering. Despite frequent calls to accept a looser definition of the terms ‘sequence’ and ‘sonnets
.1 Who were these visitors? How did they engage with and respond to the collections? How did museum staff address them, seek to control them, and interact with them? To tackle these questions, this chapter draws from the established bodies of work in cultural theory, mass communication studies and book history that view the communication process from both sides. In museum studies, visitor theory and contemporary surveys are replacing the passive audience with active participants in the construction of meaning, but seldom has the historical visitor been awarded the