1st Edition

Practices of Ephemera in Early Modern England

Edited By Callan Davies, Hannah Lilley, Catherine Richardson Copyright 2023
    252 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    252 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This collection is the first to historicise the term ephemera and its meanings for early modern England and considers its relationship to time, matter, and place. It asks: how do we conceive of ephemera in a period before it was routinely employed (from the eighteenth century) to describe ostensibly disposable print? In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—when objects and texts were rapidly proliferating—the term began to acquire its modern association with transitoriness. But contributors to this volume show how ephemera was also integrally related to wider social and cultural ecosystems. Chapters explore those ecosystems and think about the papers and artefacts that shaped homes, streets, and cities or towns and their attendant preservation, loss, or transformation. The studies here therefore look beyond static records to think about moments of process and transmutation and accordingly get closer to early modern experiences, identities, and practices.

    Table of Contents


    List of Illustrations


    1. introduction/ spawning
    2. concepts/ emerging

    3. Megan Heffernan, Expired Time: Archiving Waste Manuscripts
    4. Anna Reynolds, What do Texts and Insects have in Common?; or, Ephemerality before Ephemera
    5. Bruce Boehrer, Time’s Flies: Ephemerality in the Early Modern Insect World
    6. Robert Bearman, What is an ‘ephemeral archive’? Stratford-upon-Avon, 1550-1650: a case study
    7. Alison Wiggins, Paper and Elite Ephemerality
    8. matter/ metamorphosing

    9. Elaine Leong, Recipes and Paper Knowledge
    10. Katherine Hunt, More lasting than bronze: statues, writing, and the materials of ephemera in Ben Jonson’s Sejanus His Fall
    11. Hannah Lilley, Uncovering Ephemeral Practice: Itineraries of Black Ink and the Experiments of Thomas Davis
    12. Helen Smith, Things That Last: Ephemerality and Endurance in Early Modern England
    13. environments/ buzzing

    14. Michael Lewis, Toy Coach from London
    15. Jemima Matthews, Maritime Ephemera in Walter Mountfort’s The Launching of the Mary
    16. Callan Davies, Playing Apples and the Playhouse Archive
    17. William Tullet, Extensive Ephemera: Perfumer’s Trade Cards in Eighteenth-Century England


    Catherine Richardson is Professor of Early Modern Studies and Director of the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries at the University of Kent. She studies early modern material culture, and has written books on Domestic Life and Domestic Tragedy in Early Modern England (Manchester, 2006), Shakespeare and Material Culture (Oxford University Press, 2011) and, with Tara Hamling, A Day at Home in Early Modern England, The Materiality of Domestic Life, 1500-1700 (Yale 2017). She has edited Arden of Faversham for Arden Early Modern Drama, and is PI on the AHRC project ‘The Cultural Lives of the Middling Sort’: https://research.kent.ac.uk/middling-culture/

    Hannah Lilley is an independent scholar, previously of the University of Birmingham. She is interested in the material culture of early modern scribal practice.

    Callan Davies works across early modern literary, cultural, and theatre history. He’s part of the Box Office Bears project (researching animal sports in early modern England), as well as the Middling Culture (www.middlingculture.com) team examining early modern status, creativity, writing, and material culture, and the Before Shakespeare team (www.beforeshakespeare.com). His book, What is a Playhouse? England at Play, 1520-1620, is an accessible account of the playhouse across early modern England (Routledge 2022). He is the Editor of the Curtain playhouse records for Records of Early English Drama’s Records of Early English Drama REED London Online and author of Strangeness in Jacobean Drama (Routledge, 2020) as well as articles across literature and history journals.