Reading Drama in Tudor England is about the print invention of drama as a category of text designed for readerly consumption. Arguing that plays were made legible by the printed paratexts that accompanied them, it shows that by the middle of the sixteenth century it was possible to market a play for leisure-time reading. Offering a detailed analysis of such features as title-pages, character lists, and other paratextual front matter, it suggests that even before the establishment of successful permanent playhouses, playbooks adopted recognisable conventions that not only announced their categorical status and genre but also suggested appropriate forms of use. As well as a survey of implied reading practices, this study is also about the historical owners and readers of plays. Examining the marks of use that survive in copies of early printed plays, it explores the habits of compilation and annotation that reflect the striking and often unpredictable uses to which early owners subjected their playbooks.
"Reading Drama is therefore a welcome addition to a growing body of scholarship that treats the genre of ‘the play’ in early modern England as a resilient, adaptable, and varied category of imaginative writing, a ‘thing’ defined by as much by its material textuality as by its theatrical lives."
- Claire M.L. Bourne, Pennsylvania State University, Early Theatre
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
-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