“Books and Readers in Early Modern England” examines readers, reading and publication practices from the Renaissance to the Restoration. The essays draw on an array of documentary evidence to explore individual reading habits in a period of religious dissent, political instability and cultural transformation.
This new book is the third in the Material Texts Series, edited by Penn Professor of English Peter Stallybrass et al.
Chapters in the volume cover oral, scribal and print cultures, examining the emergence of reading practices outside religious institutions. Contributors, who include Christopher Grose, Ann Hughes, David Scott Kastan, Kathleen Lynch and William Sherman, investigate how publishers, texts, authors and audience influence one another.
The work demonstrates that early modern publications appeared in a wide variety of forms—from periodical literature to polemical pamphlets—and reflected the radical transformations occurring at the time in the dissemination of knowledge through the written word. These forms, made possible by the invention of moveable type, were far more ephemeral, and far more widely available, than modern stereotypes of writing from this period suggest.
“Books and Readers in Early Modern England” will appeal to those interested in English cultural history and two new fields: the history of the book and the history of reading. Grounded in a thorough knowledge of the existing scholarship, the essays not only rely on such research but analyze the conditions under which it is produced.
Jennifer Andersen teaches English at California State University, San Bernardino. Elizabeth Sauer is Professor of English at Brock University, Canada.
— University of Pennsylvania Press
Originally published on November 29, 2001