The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature

The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature

The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature

The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature

Synopsis

This is a comprehensive history of English literature written in Britain between the Reformation and the Restoration. While it focuses on England, literary effort in Scotland and Ireland is also covered, with occasional references to Wales and Ireland. This literary history by an international team of scholars is essential reading for students and scholars of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature, culture, and history.

Excerpt

Following The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature edited by David Wallace (1999), this collaborative volume of twenty-six chapters in five Parts narrates the history of English literature written in Britain between the Reformation and the Restoration. The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature takes account of significant recent discoveries and methodological developments in English literary studies, while providing the general coverage expected of a major critical reference work. We believe that there is a need for an innovatively conceived literary history that examines the interactions between sites of production, reception and circulation, on the one hand, and the aesthetic and generic features of early modern texts, on the other. Our volume provides basic information about and essential exposition of writing in early modern Britain, while exemplifying fresh approaches to the field and the writing of literary history. We hope that this volume, like the one devoted to medieval literature, will prove a valuable resource for scholarly, graduate and undergraduate readers, and that it will influence teaching and research in early modern English literature. We also believe that this Cambridge History differs from earlier literary histories in several notable ways.

Our volume is designed to implement what is, at present, a frequently shared working assumption of Anglo-American literary studies, but one that until now has not given shape to the compilation of a literary history. This assumption holds that literature is at once an agent and a product of its culture, simultaneously giving expression to and taking expression from the political, religious and social forces in which its own workings are imbricated. Conceived in this manner, literature can be seen to operate with peculiar power and saliency not just to create culture but also to enliven and enrich it through multiple voices and utterances. In the textual representation, expression and record that is literature, culture finds itself made readable, transmissible, revisable and preservable, while the restrictive and often artificial distinction between 'text' and 'context' dissolves. The design of The Cambridge History aims to develop this view of early modern English literature. Designed in this fashion . . .

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