Authority in European Book Culture 1400-1600: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Authority in European Book Culture 1400-1600

1st Edition

By Pollie Bromilow


244 pages

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Through its many and varied manifestations, authority has frequently played a role in the communication process in both manuscript and print. This volume explores how authority, whether religious, intellectual, political or social, has enforced the circulation of certain texts and text versions, or acted to prevent the distribution of books, pamphlets and other print matter. It also analyzes how readers, writers and printers have sometimes rebelled against the constraints and restrictions of authority, publishing controversial works anonymously or counterfeiting authoritative texts; and how the written or printed word itself has sometimes been perceived to have a kind of authority, which might have had ramifications in social, political or religious spheres. Contributors look at the experience of various European cultures-English, French, German and Italian-to allow for comparative study of a number of questions pertinent to the period. Among the issues explored are local and regional factors influencing book production; the interplay between manuscript and print culture; the slippage between authorship and authority; and the role of civic and religious authority in cultural production. Deliberately conceived to foster interdisciplinary dialogue between the history of the book, and literary and cultural history, this volume takes a pan-European perspective to explore the ways in which authority infiltrates and is in turn propagated or undermined by book culture.


'Impressively careful and fine-grained scholarship…very valuable for historians or historicist literary scholars of the period who study book culture or material culture' Renaissance Quarterly 'Taken together, [the essays] serve to ground the notion of authority in the materiality of manuscripts and printed books, and they encourage us to think more critically about how texts came to be regarded as authoritative.' Cahiers de Recherches Médiévales et Humanistes 'Pollie Bromilow presents a cohesive and engaging series of chapters that makes a positive contribution to our appreciation of aspects of authority in early modern print culture. The ostensible objective of the volume is to question the notion of ’authority as an enduring value that has the same presumed sources, agency and effects in the pre-modern period as in the twenty-first century’ … Bromilow’s careful selection of contributions ensures that the volume achieves its goal of effectively problematising this assumption, while individual chapters remain united in voice and relevant both to each other and current scholarship in the field more broadly.' Parergon '[Bromilow] presents a fresh perspective on the role of authority in late medieval and early modern book production and distribution, and does so in a nuanced and thought-provoking manner. As such, it will appeal to anyone with an interest in the socio-political context of the European book culture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.' CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Newsletter

About the Author

Pollie Bromilow is Lecturer in French at the University of Liverpool, UK.

About the Series

Material Readings in Early Modern Culture

Material Readings in Early Modern Culture

This series provides a forum for studies that consider the material forms of texts as part of an investigation into early modern English culture. The editors invite proposals of a multi- or interdisciplinary nature, and particularly welcome proposals that combine archival research with an attention to the theoretical models that might illuminate the reading, writing, and making of texts, as well as projects that take innovative approaches to the study of material texts, both in terms the kinds of primary materials under investigation, and in terms of methodologies. What are the questions that have yet to be asked about writing in its various possible embodied forms? Are there varieties of materiality that are critically neglected? How does form mediate and negotiate content? In what ways do the physical features of texts inform how they are read, interpreted and situated? Consideration will be given to both monographs and collections of essays. The range of topics covered in this series includes, but is not limited to:

-History of the book, publishing, the book trade, printing, typography (layout, type, typeface, blank/white space, paratextual apparatus)

-Technologies of the written word: ink, paper, watermarks, pens, presses

-Surprising or neglected material forms of writing

-Print culture


-Manuscript studies

-Social space, context, location of writing

-Social signs, cues, codes imbued within the material forms of texts

-Ownership and the social practices of reading: marginalia, libraries, environments of reading and reception

-Codicology, palaeography and critical bibliography

-Production, transmission, distribution and circulation

-Archiving and the archaeology of knowledge

-Orality and oral culture

-The material text as object or thing

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / General