English Seminar: Hannah August, ‘Print, manuscript, and closing the gap – methodologies and findings from Playbooks and their Readers in Early Modern England’
Hannah August, ‘Print, manuscript, and closing the gap – methodologies and findings from Playbooks and their Readers in Early Modern England’
Recent scholarship on the history of early modern drama as a reading genre has tended to focus on two types of evidence. On the one hand, it examines the implications of paratextual material and other printed features of playbooks’ design. On the other, it turns to traces of actual readers’ interactions with playbooks, in the form of extracts in manuscript commonplace books and early marginalia in extant copies of printed plays. The problem with examining these two types of evidence in isolation is that conclusions suggested by one cannot be confirmed – or contradicted – by comparing them with conclusions suggested by the other. In Playbooks and their Readers in Early Modern England (Routledge, 2022), I resolve this issue by examining the paratexts of pre-Restoration professional English plays printed in quarto for what they have to say about readers and reading, and then juxtaposing my findings with analysis of readers’ marks and marginalia in over 500 extant playbooks. This juxtaposition enables more robust conclusions about whether what early modern readers did with their playbooks in fact mirrored what early modern playwrights and publishers thought (or hoped) they did with them. In this seminar, I discuss some of the findings this methodology has enabled.
Hannah August is Senior Lecturer in English at Massey University in New Zealand, and holds a PhD from King’s College London. Her work on the history of reading early modern drama has appeared in Renaissance Drama and in the edited collections Shakespeare/Text: Contemporary Readings in Textual Studies, Editing and Performance (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2021) and The Senses in Early Modern England, 1558-1660 (Manchester University Press, 2015). Playbooks and their Readers in Early Modern England (Routledge, 2022) is her first full-length monograph.
EMLAC is the University of Sydney’s Early Modern Literature and Culture research group which is based in the English Department. It meets on the last Friday of the month during term from 1-2.30pm.
EMLAC is a friendly and supportive gathering of early modernist researchers including tenured staff, casual staff, research students, alumni and honorary associates. We are mainly focussed on English literature, but have strong cross-disciplinary interests.
Contact: Liam Semler (email@example.com).