Writing and Society: Literacy, Print, and Politics in Britain, 1590-1660

Writing and Society: Literacy, Print, and Politics in Britain, 1590-1660

Writing and Society: Literacy, Print, and Politics in Britain, 1590-1660

Writing and Society: Literacy, Print, and Politics in Britain, 1590-1660

Synopsis

Writing and Society is a stunning exploration of the relationship between the growth in popular literacy and the development of new readerships and the authors addressing them. It is the first single volume to provide a year-by-year chronology of political events in relation to cultural production. This overview of debates in literary critical theory and historiography includes facsimile pages with commentary from the most influential books of the period. The author describes and analyses: * the development of literacy by status, gender and region in Britain * structures of patronage and censorship * the fundamental role of the publishing industry * the relation between elite literary and popular cultures * the remarkable growth of female literacy and publication.

Excerpt

An Exhortation concerning Good Order and Obedience to Rulers and Magistrates

Almighty God hath created and appointed all things in heaven, earth and waters in a most excellent and perfect order. In heaven he hath appointed distinct or several orders and states of Archangels and Angels. In earth he hath assigned and appointed kings, princes, with other governors under them, in all good and necessary order. The water above is kept and raineth down in due time and season. The Sun, Moon, Stars, Rainbow, Thunder, Lightning, Clouds and all birds of the air, do keep their order. The earth, Trees, Seeds, Plants, Herbs, Corn, Grass and all manner of beasts, keep themselves in their order. All the parts of the whole year, as Whiter, Summer, Months, nights and days, continue in their order. All kinds of fishes in the Sea, Rivers, and Waters, with all fountains, Springs, yea, the Seas themselves, keep their comely course and order. And man himself also hath all his parts, both within and without: as soul, heart, mind, memory, understanding, reason, speech, with all and singular corporal members of his body, in a profitable, necessary and pleasant order. Every degree of people in their vocation, calling and office, hath appointed to them then' duty and order. Some are in high degree, some in low, some kings and princes, some inferiors and subjects, priests and laymen, Masters and Servants, Fathers and children, husbands and wives, rich and poor, and every one have need of other: so that in all things is to be lauded and praised the goodly order of God, without the which, no house, no city, no commonwealth can continue and endure or last. For where there is no right order, there reigneth all abuse, carnal liberty, enormity, sin and Babilonical confusion. Take away kings, princes, rulers, magistrates, judges and such estates of God's order, no man shall ride or go by the highway unrobbed, no man shall sleep in his own house or bed unkilled, no man shall keep his wife, children and possessions in quietness, all things shall be common, and there must needs follow all mischief and utter destruction, both of souls, bodies, goods, commonwealths.

Certain Sermons…, 1560, fol. R.iiii [r-v]

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