The Typographic Imaginary in Early Modern English Literature  book cover
1st Edition

The Typographic Imaginary in Early Modern English Literature

ISBN 9781472480422
Published June 27, 2018 by Routledge
216 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents


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

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