October 30 , 2007

Fair Copies

Reproducing the English Lyric from Tottel to Shakespeare


In the latter half of the sixteenth century, English poets and printers experimented widely with a new literary format, the printed collection of lyric poetry. They not only investigated the possibilities of working with a new medium, but also wrote metaphors of human reproduction directly into their works. In Fair Copies, Matthew Zarnowiecki argues that poetic production was re-envisioned during this period, which was rife with models of copying and imitation, to include reproduction as one of its inherent attributes.

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Tracing the development of the English lyric during this crucial period, Fair Copies incorporates a diverse range of cultural productions and reproductions – from key poetic texts by Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, Gascoigne, and Tottel to legal breviaries, visual representations of song, midwives’ manuals, and commonplace books. Also included are fifteen facsimile reproductions of poems in early printed books, with explanations and discussions of their importance. Calling upon these diverse sources, and examining lyric poems in their earliest manuscript and printed contexts, Zarnowiecki develops a new, reproductively centred method of reading early modern English lyric poetry.

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