The Book of The Play
Playwrights, Stationers, and Readers in Early Modern England
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Table of Contents
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List of Illustrations
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Introduction: Plays, Books, and the Public Sphere
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In early modern usage, the “book” of a play was the printed or manuscript text as distinct from the play in performance. The term is used across a range of institutional and rhetorical settings, from the Stationers’ Company, where licenses to print dramatic texts identify the licensed material as the “book” of a particular play, to records from the...
Part One: Real and Imagined Communities
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Chapter One. Renaissance Play-Readers, Ordinary and Extraordinary
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The 1616 folio edition of The Workes of Beniamin Jonson has long served literary theorists, historians, and critics as the critical moment in English literary history when the early modern English dramatist ascended from the stage to the page and took up the mantle of “author” by collaborating with his publisher-printer, William Stansby, to create an...
Chapter Two. Reading Printed Comedy: Edward Sharpham‘s The Fleer
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My focus in this essay is on early-seventeenth-century readers of Edward Sharpham’s The Fleer, a comedy first performed by the Children of the Revels at the Blackfriars theater around 1606, and printed in 1607, 1610, 1615 and 1631.1 I look closely here at three documents that present readers or reading contexts for this play. The first is a...
Chapter Three. Reading Through the Body: Women and Printed Drama
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When Moseley made this claim in 1647 women were, indeed, avid playreaders, although the assertion that their interests have a formative influence on the design of the volume is undercut by the simple fact that the preface is addressed exclusively to “Gentlemen” readers and that they alone are projected as book buyers. The rationale for limiting the contents...
Chapter Four. Closet Drama and ahe Case of Tyrannicall-Government Anatomized
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The channeling of performance into print and the realignment of the dramatic mode are timely subjects of inquiry in light of the scholarly interest in the book trade, publication history, and reading practices, including play-reading. The early modern theater had served in the Renaissance as a charged territory and site of affiliation, presenting...
Part Two: Play-Reading and the Book Trade
Chapter Five. Typographic Nostalgia: Play-Reading, Popularity, and the Meanings of Black Letter
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Part of what makes a history of reading so difficult to write is that reading occurs at the intersection of the material and the immaterial, the physical and the psychical, the letter and the spirit. Here I examine this intersection in one particular type of letter: the black-letter (“gothic” or textura) typeface. Black letter is suffused with nostalgia,...
Chapter Six. Play-Reading, News-Reading, and Ben Jonson‘s The Staple of News
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When Ben Jonson’s The Staple of News was first performed by the King’s Men in February 1626, the audience apparently misunderstood the play’s third act, the only one in which the fictional “Staple of News” is open and selling news reports.1 According to Jonson, “the allegory, and purpose of the Author,” had been “wholly mistaken,” so, in...
Chapter Seven. Genres, Early Modern Theatrical Title Pages, and the Authority of Print
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When Heminge and Condell prepared the 1623 Shakespeare folio, they did not follow the example of Ben Jonson’s 1616 collection and call their volume Shakespeare’s “works” or deck the volume with a sculptural title page.1 Instead, apparently as an alternative assurance of the weightiness of their enterprise, they announced “Mr. William...
Chapter Eight. The Masque In/As Print
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As preparations unfolded for the long-exiled Charles II to return triumphantly to London in 1660, a masque titled The Subjects Joy for the Kings Restoration, Cheerfully Made Known in a Sacred Masque was already in print by the time he landed at Dover.1 The cultural logic of welcoming the king with a masque is clear: as the Restoration heals the...
Chapter Nine. Inky Kin: Reading in the age of Gutenberg Paternity
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Given the focus in this part of the book on the intersections between dramas—many of which were written to be viewed in performance, not read1—and the early modern publishing industry, I want to concentrate in this chapter on a play that we might agree is rather readerly: Richard Brome’s The Antipodes.2...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2006
Series Title: Studies in Print Culture and History of the Book