The Book of the Play: Playwrights, Stationers, and Readers in Early Modern England (Massachusetts Studies in Early Modern Culture) (Paperback)

The Book of the Play: Playwrights, Stationers, and Readers in Early Modern England (Massachusetts Studies in Early Modern Culture) By Marta Straznicky (Editor) Cover Image
By Marta Straznicky (Editor)
Email or call for price.


The Book of the Play is a collection of essays that examines early modern drama in the context of book history. Focusing on the publication, marketing, and readership of plays opens fresh perspectives on the relationship between the cultures of print and performance and more broadly between drama and the public sphere. Marta Straznicky's introduction offers a survey of approaches to the history of play reading in this period, and the collection as a whole consolidates recent work in textual, bibliographic, and cultural studies of printed drama.

Individually, the essays advance our understanding of play reading as a practice with distinct material forms, discourses, social settings, and institutional affiliation. Part One, "Real and Imagined Communities," includes four essays on play-reading communities and the terms in which they are distinguished from the reading public at large. Cyndia Clegg surveys the construction of readers in prefaces to published plays; Lucy Munro traces three separate readings of a single play, Edward Sharpham's The Fleer; Marta Straznicky studies women as readers of printed drama; and Elizabeth Sauer describes how play reading was mobilized for political purposes in the period of the civil war.

In Part Two, "Play Reading and the Book Trade," five essays consider the impact of play reading on the public sphere through the lens of publishing practices. Zachary Lesser offers a revisionist account of black-letter typeface and the extent to which it may be understood as an index of popular culture; Alan Farmer examines how the emerging news trade of the 1620s and 1630s affected the marketing of printed drama; Peter Berek traces the use of generic terms on title pages of plays to reveal their intersection with the broader culture of reading; Lauren Shohet demonstrates that the Stuart masque had a parallel existence in the culture of print; and Douglas Brooks traces the impact print had on eclipsing performance as the medium in which the dramatist could legitimately lay claim to having authored his text.

The individual essays focus on selected communities of readers, publication histories, and ideologies and practices of reading; the collection as a whole demonstrates the importance of textual production and reception to understanding the place of drama in the early modern public sphere.

About the Author

Marta Straznicky is associate professor of English at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario.

Praise For…

"As an important complement to performance-oriented studies, The Book of the Play is an outstanding contribution to scholarship on drama of the period. The essays in Straznicky's well-balanced collection are consistently of the highest scholarly standard and superbly expressed. Paratexts can spark off revolutions."—Kritikon Litterarum

"This is a book with a clear agenda, addressing an important and timely topic and assembling many of the most influential scholars working in the fields it addresses. . . . The collection offers a wide-ranging and consistently engaging discussion of the status of printed plays in early modern England."—William Sherman, author of John Dee: The Politics of

Reading and Writing in the English Renaissance

"This collection is an admirable and multifaceted foray into an undeservedly neglected area, but unless such a debate to establish the extent of play-reading among different social classes is initiated it would seem that any future critical appraisals of reading Renaissance drama will be piecemeal and incomplete."—Essays in Criticism

"Marta Straznicky's preliminary essay introduces the question under discussion and summarizes the more detailed studies that follow, while its footnotes provide and excellent account of previous work. In under twenty pages it manages to say more than most books on the subject."—SHARP-News
Product Details
ISBN: 9781558495333
ISBN-10: 1558495339
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication Date: June 7th, 2006
Pages: 256
Language: English
Series: Massachusetts Studies in Early Modern Culture