Abstract

Modernity is premised on a break from the past that initiates progress. For England, this break is thought to occur in the sixteenth century, and is reflected in the development of the English literary canon. This essay contests such a view by re-reading the prefaces to Edmund Spenser's 1579 Shepheardes Calender and Thomas Speght's 1598 Workes of Chaucer against John Lydgate's Fall of Princes to trace a relationship of inheritance and continuity among fifteenth- and sixteenth-century literary cultures, a relationship it encapsulates in the word "loadstarre". Thus, the essay argues for a notion of textual cultures that spans the medieval and modern, calling the very notion of historical period into question.

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