1st Edition

The Typographic Imaginary in Early Modern English Literature

By Rachel Stenner Copyright 2019
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The typographic imaginary is an aesthetic linking authors from William Caxton to Alexander Pope, this study centrally contends. Early modern English literature engages imaginatively with printing and this book both characterizes that engagement and proposes the typographic imaginary as a framework for its analysis. Certain texts, Rachel Stenner states, describe the people, places, concerns, and processes of printing in ways that, over time, generate their own figurative authority. The typographic imaginary is posited as a literary phenomenon shared by different writers, a wider cultural understanding of printing, and a critical concept for unpicking the particular imaginative otherness that printing introduced to literature. Authors use the typographic imaginary to interrogate their place in an evolving media environment, to assess the value of the printed text, and to analyse the roles of other text-producing agents. This book treats a broad array of authors and forms: printers’ manuals; William Caxton’s paratexts; the pamphlet dialogues of Robert Copland and Ned Ward; poetic miscellanies; the prose fictions of William Baldwin, George Gascoigne, and Thomas Nashe; the poetry and prose of Edmund Spenser; writings by John Taylor and Alexander Pope. At its broadest, this study contributes to an understanding of how technology changes cultures. Located at the crossroads between literary, material, and book historical research, the particular intervention that this work makes is threefold. In describing the typographic imaginary, it proposes a new framework for analysis of print culture. It aims to focus critical engagement on symbolic representations of material forms. Finally, it describes a lineage of late medieval and early modern authors, stretching from the mid-fifteenth to the mid-eighteenth centuries, that are linked by their engagement of a particular aesthetic.


    List of Figures v

    Acknowledgements vi

    Note on Quotation vii

    Abbreviations viii

    Introduction: Print and the Difference it Makes 1

    Implications 7

    Critical Mapping 16

    Cases 26

    Chapter 1: Instructional Texts and Print Symbolism: Christopher Plantin, Hieronymus Hornschuch, and Joseph Moxon 51

    Processes 55

    People 69

    Conclusion 77

    Chapter 2: An Emergent Typographic Imaginary in William Caxton’s Paratexts 86

    Life in Literature, Diplomacy, and Commerce 88

    The Benefits of Printing in Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye 90

    Imagined Typographic Space 96

    Reorganising Continuity: Mirrour of the World 104

    Conclusion 112

    Chapter 3: Robert Copland, Thomas Blague, and the Printer-Author Dialogue 124

    Printer-Author Dialogue and its Mutations 126

    Characterising the Printer: Gatekeepers of the Press 130

    Print and Metacommunication: Uses of the Dialogue Form 145

    Conclusion 153

    Chapter 4: Protestant Printing and Humanism in Beware the Cat: Undoing Printing 164

    Protestant Printer and Humanist Scholar 168

    Dead Bodies and Printer’s Devils 174

    Printing and Penning 178

    Conclusion 183

    Chapter 5: George Gascoigne and Richard Tottel: Negotiating Manuscript and Print in the Poetic Miscellany 193

    Typographic Value in the Prefatory Poses of A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres 199

    The Benefits of Printing in The Posies of George Gascoigne Esquire 209

    Conclusion 215

    Chapter 6: Edmund Spenser’s Early and Mid Career: Public Image and Machine Horror


    Early Career Self-Presentation: The Shepeardes Calender and Three Proper, and Wittie, Familiar Letters 225

    Monstrous Typographic Fertility in The Faerie Queene 232

    Resonant Errour in ‘The Teares of the Muses’ 244

    Conclusion 247

    Chapter 7 St Paul’s Churchyard and the Meanings of Print: Pierce Penilesse His Supplication to the Divell 259

    Nashe’s Mosaic of the Print Trade 266

    Waste and Matter 274

    The Figurative Authority of Print 280

    Conclusion 282

    Conclusion: Love and Loathing in Grub Street 289


    Rachel Stenner lectures in Renaissance Literature at the University of Sheffield, UK.