in Aesthetics of contingency


The writing of books, especially first books, is no easy business; so it is both a pleasure and a relief to acknowledge those people and institutions who have sustained the writing of this one. Key periods of teaching release and research support were provided by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St Louis; by the School of English at the University of St Andrews; and by the Folger Institute in Washington, DC. I am particularly grateful to Kathleen Lynch at the Folger for facilitating my short-term fellowship there at a crucial late stage.

Parts of the book were previously published in scholarly journals, and I would like to thank the editors of those journals for permission to rework that material. An earlier version of Chapter 3 was published as ‘The chameleon or the sponge? Marvell, Milton, and the politics of literary history’, Studies in Philology, 111:1 (2014), pp. 132–62. Part of Chapter 5 was published as ‘Dryden’s “mysterious writ” and the empire of signs’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 74:1 (2011), pp. 1–22 (© 2011 by Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, all rights reserved). There is also some incidental overlap with my essays ‘Borders and transitions in Marvell’s poetry’, in The Cambridge Companion to Andrew Marvell (Cambridge, 2011), edited by Derek Hirst and Steven N. Zwicker, and ‘Trading places: Lord Rochester, the laureate, and the making of literary reputation’, in Lord Rochester in the Restoration World (Cambridge, 2015), edited by Augustine and Zwicker.

I became an early modernist on account of the remarkable group of people I met as a graduate student in St Louis. This book bears the mark of seminars, workshops, and many conversations there with Lara Bovilsky, Joe Loewenstein, Bill McKelvy, Wolfram Schmidgen, and Steve Zwicker, in English; with Daniel Bornstein and Derek Hirst, in History; with Rob Henke, in Comparative Literature; with Bill Wallace, in Art History; and with Jennifer Rust and Jonathan Sawday, down the road at Saint Louis University. Their lessons endure: in particular, the dialogue I have enjoyed with Derek and above all with Steve, on and off the page, continues to provide provocation and insight – and indeed pleasure – well in excess of the debts recorded in my footnotes.

In St Louis I had an equally indispensable education from those friends who helped me imagine myself within the republic letters, and who schooled me in the principle of mutual necessity between learning and fellowship: Brandon Combs, Joe Conway, Tarah Demant, Matt Fluharty, Jon Graas, Olivia Harman, Josh Hoeynck, Peter Monahan, Matt Nicholas, Dina Rudofsky (Hoeynck), Ryan Shirey, Matthew Shipe, Carter Smith, Natalie Spar, Courtney Weiss (Smith), and James Williams. Katie Muth has the distinction of appearing everywhere in these acknowledgements; before she was my partner and co-parent, she was also my best critic and closest friend.

In St Andrews, I have often needed the advice of Alex Davis and Tom Jones; my senior colleagues Lorna Hutson, now the Merton Professor at Oxford, and Neil Rhodes, have spurred my work through their example and their encouragement. Much is owed as well to the sociability of Christina Alt, Clare Gill, Ben Hewitt, Philip Parry, Tony Prave, Anindya Raychaudhuri, and last but not least, Lorna Burns. The Andrew Marvell Society has provided many sustaining bonds. For various kindnesses over the years, I am grateful to Martin Dzelzainis, Alex Garganigo, Tim Raylor, Nigel Smith, and Nicholas von Maltzahn, among others.

I would like to thank as well those friends and colleagues – and in particular the Press’s two anonymous readers – who valuably commented on portions of the manuscript: its remaining faults are, alas, my own.

Closer to home, my parents, Bob and Kathy, have been the foundation of everything. My brothers Mark and David provide the salt and the leavener. But it is to Katie and Julian that this book owes the most. Without Katie, this book could not have been written: I’ve learned more from her than she will ever know. Our shining boy has every day lightened the work of writing, among much else. For him I will write another book; this one is for Katie.

Aesthetics of contingency

Writing, politics, and culture in England, 1639– 89


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