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Reading, Society and Politics in Early Modern England
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 (ISBN-13: 9780511055904 | ISBN-10: 0511055900)

This book ranges over private and public reading, and over a variety of religious, social, and scientific communities to locate acts of reading in specific historical moments from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. It also charts the changes in reading habits that reflect broader social and political shifts during the period. A team of expert contributors cover topics including the processes of book production and distribution, audiences and markets, the material text, the relation of print to performance, and the politics of acts of reception. In addition, the volume emphasises the independence of early modern readers and their role in making meaning in an age in which increased literacy equaled social enfranchisement and interpretation was power. Meaning was not simply an authorial act but the work of many hands and processes, from editing, printing, and proofing, to reproducing, distributing, and finally reading.

• An interdisciplinary approach to readers and reading in early modern England • Ranges widely over subjects relating to religion, science and politics • Written by an international team of experts


List of illustrations; List of contributors; Acknowledgements; Introduction: discovering the Renaissance reader Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker; Part I. The Material Text: 1. Errata: print, politics, and poetry in early modern England Seth Lerer; 2. Abandoning the capital in eighteenth-century London Richard Wendorf; Part II. Reading as Politics: 3. 'Boasting of silence': women readers and the patriarchal state Heidi Brayman Hackel; 4. Reading revelations: prophecy, hermeneutics and politics in early modern Britain Kevin Sharpe; Part III. Print, Politics and Performance: 5. Performances and playbooks: the closing of the theatres and the politics of drama David Scott Kastan; 6. Irrational, impractical and unprofitable: reading the news in seventeenth-century Britain Joad Raymond; Part IV. Reading Physiologies: 7. Reading bodies Michael Shoenfeldt; 8. Reading and experiment in the early Royal Society Adrian Johns; Part V. Reading Texts in Time: 9. Martial, Jonson and the assertion of plagiarism Joseph Loewenstein; 10. The constitution of opinion and the pacification of reading Steven N. Zwicker; 11. Cato's retreat: fabula, historia and the question of constitutionalism in Mr Locke's anonymous Essay on Government Kirsie M. McClure; Index.


Review of the hardback: 'The essays that make up the collection are uniformly of a high standard. This is a stimulating and authoritative contribution to our understanding of the many ways readers have sought authority through, and over, their texts.' SHARP News

Review of the hardback: 'Modern readers can expect to receive pleasure rather than pain from this handsome, engaging and wide-ranging [] volume … for early modernist scholars who are serious about attending to early modern readers, this volume will serve as an indispensable guide.' History

Review of the hardback: 'This book is provocative and informative.' Sixteenth Century Journal


Kevin Sharpe, Steven N. Zwicker, Seth Lerer, Richard Wendorf, Heidi Brayman Hackel, Kevin Sharpe, David Scott Kastan, Joad Raymond, Michael Shoenfeldt, Adrian Johns, Joseph Loewenstein, Kirsie M. McClure

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