1st Edition

New Essays on History and Form in Early Modern English Literature

Edited By Nick Moschovakis, Gail Kern Paster Copyright 2024
    192 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume convenes eight noted scholars with varied positions at the interface of formal and historical literary criticism. The editors’ introduction—a far-reaching account of how both methods have intersected in studies of early modern English texts since the 1990s—is the first such survey in more than 15 years, making it invaluable to scholars entering this area. Three essays address foundational questions about genre, fictionality, and formlessness; five feature close readings of texts or passages ranging from the more canonical (Shakespeare, Herbert, Milton) to the less so (an official record of the 1604 Hampton Court Conference). For scholars and students alike, the book thus models a variety of ways both to conceptualize and to analyze the value of literature at the formal–historical interface. Encompassing drama, lyric, satirical and polemical prose, and metrical as well as rhetorical and logical forms, the collection closes with an afterword by theorist Caroline Levine.

    List of contributors

    Introduction: Form, History, and Value

    Nick Moschovakis and Gail Kern Paster

    1.     Formless

    Douglas Bruster 

    2.     Fictionalizing Place on the Shakespearean Stage

    Benedict S. Robinson

    3.     Genre as Sign in John Milton’s Samson Agonistes

    Daniel Allen Shore

    4.     Logical Form and the History of Divorce: Adriana’s Speech on Marriage in The Comedy of Errors

    Nick Moschovakis

    5.     Conforming to Authority: The Summe and Substance and Satiric Expression in the Early Stuart Era

    Joseph Navitsky

    6.     “Stand Still, You Ever-Moving Spheres of Heaven”: Form and Feeling in Dramatic Apostrophe

    Gail Kern Paster

    7.     “A Madrigal of Procreation”: Intermedial Balletts and the Renaissance English Theater

    Jennifer Linhart Wood

    8.     Form and Knowledge in "Love"

    Richard Strier


    Caroline Levine



    Gail Kern Paster is Director Emerita of the Folger Shakespeare Library and Editor Emerita of Shakespeare Quarterly. Her publications include The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England (1993) and Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage (2004). She was named to the Queen’s Honours List in 2011.

    Nick Moschovakis has published on early modern English literaure in scholarly journals and in edited collections—including Shakespeare and Historical Formalism, ed. Stephen Cohen (2007)—and is an editor of two prior volumes of Shakespearean criticism. Employed mainly as a writing instructor and consultant to international organizations, he has also taught literature and academic writing at several colleges and universities, including most recently the American University of Paris. From 2015–2019 he served on Shakespeare Quarterly’s Editorial Board.