The eleven essays in this volume explore the complex interactions
in early modern England between a technologically advanced culture
of the printed book and a still powerful traditional culture of the
spoken word, spectacle, and manuscript. Scholars who work on
manuscript culture, the history of printing, cultural history,
historical bibliography, and the institutions of early modern drama
and theater have been brought together to address such topics as
the social character of texts, historical changes in notions of
literary authority and intellectual property, the mutual influence
and tensions between the different forms of "publication", and the
epistemological and social implications of various communications
Although canonical literary writers such as Shakespeare, Jonson,
and Rochester are discussed, the field of writing examined is a
broad one, embracing political speeches, coterie manuscript poetry,
popular pamphlets, parochially targeted martyrdom accounts, and
news reports. Setting writers, audiences, and texts in their
specific historical context, the contributors focus on a period in
early modern England, from the late sixteenth through the late
seventeenth century, when the shift from orality and manuscript
communication to print was part of large-scale cultural change
Arthur F. Marotti's and Michael D. Bristol's introduction analyzes
some of the sociocultural issues implicit in the collection and
relates the essays to contemporary work in textual studies,
bibliography, and publication history.
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