Brayman Hackel 2005

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Brayman Hackel, Heidi. Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Towards a material history of reading

"This study attends instead to the constructiosn and practices of less extraordinary readers, who often remain visible in the historical record only because of their occasional traces in books. For it is these readers, not the celebrated poets or career scholars, whose entry into the print marketplace provoked debate and changed the definition of literacy in early modern Enland. By telling their stories, Reading Material displaces both the singular 'ideal' or transhistorical reader and the extraordinary male reader." (8)
"This book seeks to historicize, rather than idealize or merely theorize, the various experiences of early modern readers." (8)
"This study examines the intellectual and material activities on both sides of the early modern printing press in order to reconstruct both the strategies recommended to readers and the practices in which they they engaged." (8)

Impressions from a 'scribbling age': Gestures and habits of reading

single most widely-used prop on Tudor-Stuart stage: letters, included in more than 400 contemporary stage directions, books in roughly 130 (19)

  • "By the 1630s, as large private libraries are becoming increasingly common among the aristocracy, a new level of materiality shows up in the representations of book collections on the English stage. Bookish characters, denounced by their fellows as 'booke-wormes,' surround themselves with the tools and products of their bibliophilia." (20)
"In traversing an alien linguistic terrain where 'scribbling' might signify prolific printing and where on emight 'speak in print,' scholars must be alert to the overlapping categories central to an understanding of early modern reading as distinct from, though contiguous with, modern habits of reading: manuscript and print, private and public, aural and visual, reading and writing and speaking. These categories circumscribe the material objects, physical spaces, and practical forms of reading in the period, and they help define what it meant to be a reader during this transitional moment in the history of literacy. The unfamiliar fluidity of these categories begins to suggest the variousness of reading and the varieties of readers in early modern England." (25)
" Carleton, Burges, and Puttenham all connect 'scribbling' to a broadening popular production and reception of texts. Burges's and Carleton's expression, which echoes the concerns of many of their contemporaries, places printed books at the center of their definition of the gae, but tellingly it does so in the language of manuscript practices. Indeed, the early modern period is in many ways distinguished by such contradictios and by radical changes in the production, distribution, and reception of texts." (26)
"Thomas Milles's Custumers Apology (1599) demonstrates teh collaboration of print and manuscript possible, if not common, a century and a half after Gutenberg. Professionally hand finished, extant copies of this text have been supplied with marginal annotations and a virtuoso range of interlinear and marginal symbols: fists, paragraph markers, brackets, ruling. In the Huntington Library copy, many of these symbols are supplied in gilt or shimmering red. The folio is certainly more beautiful for these additions, but it would also be incomplete without the manuscript filling in of several blanks in the text." (30)

"bound manuscript volumes and printed books are not easily distinguished on a shelf" (33)

"If we take reading to be an increasingly solitary, silent, and private activity in the early modern period, it is essential to understand the material circumstances that permitted solitude and to acknowledge the unfamiliar ways in which privacy was figured. domestic reading spaces, especially the bedchamber and book closet, were critical sites of an emergent sense of privacy, but they were also frequently communal, even noisy, places. Women's reading was often confined to spaces within a household, so it is especially important to understand the range of reading experiences possible in this realm." (34-5)
"Two spaces for reading onstage figure prominently in discussions of privacy, domesticity, and interiority: the bedchamber and the book closet. ... The variety of readings reported in these two domestic spaces suggest the shifting of categories since the early modern period: private and public, solitary and communal. Onstage and in the historical record, the bedchamber and the book closet are often sites of textual and communal activity. As spaces for textual activity, they command attention in a history of reading; as spaces of communal activity, they provide oppotunities to recover 'forgotten' habits of the early modern period." (37-8)
"Clifford brings into her bedchamber the humanist model of the commonplace book, a meethod more often connected to the masculine realms of the university, study, or closet." (39) -- same practice mentioned in W. M.'s 'The Man in the Moone (1609)
"Even when studied as spaces of transgressive sextuality, closets are often bookish places, and this sexuality is insistently textual." (41)
"As early as the 1550s, English gentlewomen had their own book closets. By the seventeenth century, ladies' closets may have een fairly common in great households." (41)
"Peyton's description of the 'Ladies Closets' is, in part, a voyeuristic fantasy in which he grants himself free access to these women's closets, plants a book, and then watches the ladies' eager or coy handling of 'that Huge Tome of wit.' Such a fantasy depends at once upon the possibility and the difficulty of such access." (42)

vocalized reading, communal reading aloud disrupted paradigm of silent, solitary reading (44)

"Beginning perhaps as early as the seventh century in monasteries and on a large scale in the eleventh century in cathedral schools, silent reading was required by university libraries (if not by Alma) in the early fourteenth century and practiced widely among the nobility and professions by the fifteenth century in England." (45)
"Except for readers who 'can but spell,' most sixteenth- and seventeenth-century readers would have been able to read silently. Yet many still read aloud. for some, reading aloud was a way to expand the circle of literacy and share the written or printed word with their listeners." (46)

example of woman who couldn't read but carried book with her so when she met someone who could they could read aloud to her (46)

"Communal reading as a social practice was not merely a popular response to illiteracy. As the closet has been (mis)taken as emblematic of private reading, the tavern and town square would seem to be the sites of aural reading. But classrooms, churches, courts, great halls, and even closets were also spaces for aural reading." (47)
"Evidence of the overlapping of visual and aural reading appears in the blurring of eyes and ears in contemporary addresses to readers." (48)
"Reading, that is, might stimulate the senses of sight and hearing equally." (49)
"The aurality of reading for many, if not all, early modern people challenges what we mean by a 'reader' and necessitates a consideration of the role of an audience. When Anne Clifford's servant reads the Arcadia aloud to her, which of them should be designated the 'reader': the paid servant who performs the cognitive task of converting written to spoken language, or the gentlewoman ho owns and selects the book for reading and who, on occasion, dictates marginal annotations?" (51)
"The scene of Anne Clifford alternately reading by herself, listening to others, dictating annotations, and scribbling in the margins of a single volume suggests the intimate connections between reading, writing, and speaking in early modern England. Humanist education and literary imitation placed reading at the center of early modern conceptions of writing; at the level of sophisticated literary production, reading and writing were thus inextricably bound." (52)
"In Erasmus' model, reading begets writing begets speaking. Yet as contemporary examples show, this trio of activities had multiple configurations int he commonplace book. A remark in conversation might be recorded in a commonplace book and then recopied as a formulaic phrase in a letter; a passage from a printed book might be committed to memory and then dictated later into a version of a commonplace book." (53)
"Throughout the period, educational theorists and religious polemicists pressed for constraints on women's reading; much of this discussion assumed an equivalence between reading, writing, and speaking." (53)

Thomas Powell, Tom of All Trades (1631), mentions gentleman's daughters should read instead of write (53-4)

only 58 printed books listed as dedicated to various generic categories of Ladies, Gentlewomen, Women, Maids, Widdows, Doxies and others in Williams' Index (54n143)

"Early modern women especially published primarily in genres that relied explicitly on their readings of other texts: translations, compilations, refutations, and editions. Projects, like Mary Sidney's translations and Rachel Speght's polemic, thatm ight otherwise seem extraordinarily different in terms of genre and tone emerge as dindred enterprises when considered in the context of writing cast as reading." (55)

multiple literacies: "In a period with a profusion of scripts and typefaces, proficiency in one did not guarantee competence in another." (59)

Most Easie Instructions for Reading, Specially Penned for the Good of those Who Are Come to Yeares (1610)

"Reading on its own is a historically invisible skill: readers who did not sign loyalty oaths or 'set downe common prises aat Markets, write a Letter, and make a bond' seem to vanish from the archives. Yet many early modern people, especially women and laborers (who keep company at the bottom of Cressy's tables), read without being able to write." (61)
"The inability to 'take Note' -- or annotate a book by writing -- did not, therefore, preclude a reader's 'taking notice.' And, indeed, even a reader unable to write might still 'take Note' by following the suggestions in contemporary treatises to make a 'pinprick' or an impression with a fingernail nex to difficult or notable passage. Reading was a 'much more socially diffused skill than writing,' largely because reading was taught before writing both in petty schools and in informal arrangements, and the demands of family economy often interrupted a child's education." (62)

trenchers -- alternatives to hornbooks; non-paper writing surfaces used to teach letters (67)

Framing 'gentle readers' in preliminaries and margins

"Preliminaries acknowledged the 'great Variety of readers' but, in the very act of stratifying those readers, pushed them towards a single reading posture of sympthy, pliability, and friendliness. Printed marginalia continued this project of narrowing meaning in many books, mapping for readers one reading path. Modern terminology for these parts of a book -- preliminaries, marginalia, apparatus, paratexts -- distinguishes them from the 'main text' and belies their critical function in early modern books; further, modern editors and publishing houses often omit, fragment, or otherwise misrepresent them." (69)

1604, Daiphantus, epistle satirizes hornbook genre and dedicatory epistles (70)

"Once largely the domain of the social and intellectual elites, reading and book ownership were becoming activities avilable to a 'great Variety' of early modern English people, includin shepherds, servants, chambermaids, laundresses, and merchants' daughters, in the seventeenth century." (71)

"anxiety about the handling of books by anonymous consumers" (73)

Pseudo-Martyr, advertisement to reader at the end shows "conflicting definitions of the reader" (74)

fear of reproduction (75)

Dorothy Leigh, The Mothers Blessing (1616)

"At the center of this anxiety is the customer or reader, who paradoxically is both in danger and a danger in early modern discussions of reading." (77)
"Digby locates the danger in the text; Jonson, in the reader. Like Una and Redcrosse, early modern readers need both reliable guides and sound judgment to escape the reading process unscathed." (78)

Arte of Rhetorique (1585), Thomas Wilson, "insists upon the deceptive strength of the reading process"

  • "Exposed to danger and corruption,t he unwary reader is transformed into that very corruption. For Wilson, reading bad books results in a form of physical monstrousness as the careless reader is likened to someone burned by the sun or covered in tar." (78)

"spectacularly powerful and dangerous readers": Archimago, Propsero, Faustus

"Most prefaces maintain that the diversity of interpretations rests not in the text with its singular 'true meaning,' but in the multiplicity of readers. Early in the period, transgressive readings were aligned predominantly with specific types of people; class, sex, and religion all might predispose a reader to a particular interpretation." (79)
"While the book itself may be dangerous, it si the reader who must negotiate any potential hazards by framing his or her mind appropriately. The new and 'great Variety' of readers, of course, increased the possibility of unsupervised readers approaching books with ill-disposed minds." (79)

Henry Fitzgeffrey asks his bookbinder to choose the smallest size for his book so it won't be used in a pipe or as toilet paper (81)

Thomas More, plan to screen owners of vernacular bibles through bishops (82); "More's plan acknowledged at once the potential power and the vulnerability of every reader." (82)

Act for the Advancement of True Religion, 1543, restricted bible reading; "The Act is revealing in its equation of habits of reading with social status, assigning 'naughtie and erronyous' reading with the lower rangers; further, it foregrounds gender over class in grouping all women tegheter despite its careful gradations of rank for men. Like More's proposal, the king's efforts to control access to the Bible depended upon the transparency of every reader's disposition and the assumption that reading was determined by factors external to the reading process itself. In this view, who one was and how one read were considered one and the same: identity, that is, determined interpretation." (83)

Vives, "advocated the occasional physical removal of inappropriate and even godly books from women's possession" (84)

"While More and Vives and the elder Cary sought physical control over books and hence readers, Calvinist doctrine suggested that physical access alone would not make books available to some readers, for open books will be veiled from them." (85)
"Preliminaries, I will argue, initiate the work that is completed, in some books by printed marginalia." (86)

"prefaces often figured as gates, doors, porches, or entryways" (86)

"The language of early modern prefaces aligns notions of the printed book with acts of circulation, divulgation, and publication." (87)
"To make a text into a book is to make it public, to allow it to circulate, and to prepare it, therefore, for a variety of readers." (88)
"Though the advent of print did not have the monumental and monolithic impact sometimes attributed to it, printing did change readers' reception of books in very material ways, and it heightened authors' concerns about the interpretation o their works by a whole new class of unseen readers. Of all the different paratextual materials introduced or refined during the early modern period -- title pages, frontispieces, preliminaries, illustrations, annotations, indexes, errata sheets -- prefatory letters and printed marginalia most clearly signal concerns about interpretation and most explicitly direct readers' experiences of a text." (88)
"While the preliminaries attempt to shape the readership of the published text,t he printed marginalia direct the reading of individual moments in the text. Both tactics, while possible in manuscript books, respond to the increased circulation of printed books and the growing number of readers, and they rest upon the assumption and fear that a given reader had access to many different books, interpretations, and attitudes. Neither prefaces nor annotations originated with print culture, but the divulgation associated with print sparked the development of the apparatus as a guide for a divergent readership. Unified both spatially and typographically from the rest of the book, preliminaries and printed marginalia attempt to define readership and circumscribe the reading process." (90)
"The polyphony of paratexts is manifested visually in the typography of early modern books." (94)

Latin and humanist texts associated with roman type; Aldus published a Monitum "warning book buyers of the typographical, material, and textual defects of the piracies" (95)

"The widespread practice of distinguishing paratexts typographically and the consistency of typography from one edition to another suggest that these distinctions were meaningful and deliberate choices made in the print shop." (96)
"By 1600, writers and printers seemed to expect skilled readers to understand such typographical conventions and carry associations with particular typefaces." (97)

Edmund Coote, "Directions for the ignorant" and "Directions for the vnskillfull" -- "explains the signification of the variousness of typefaces: roman for Latin words, italic for French, and black letter for English." (97)

"it is the common, not the extraordinary, raeder who is the object of most paratexts. the most powerful and highly skilled readers are addressed, if at all, in dedicatory epistles; they are then frequently exempted from all other paratextual guides. Patrons are often addressed as extraordinary readers; the fact that they are singled out in a dedicatory epistle further separates them from other readers. Sometimes, a patron's interpretive skills are described as so finely honed that he or she need not even read the entire book." (7-8)
"Proclamations and acts throughout the period placed paratexts within the view of the authorities." (99) -- censorship of preliminaries

preliminaries had become very extensive by 1651 (101)-- complaints about their lengths and excesses

patronage system placed the reader before the author (102)

"By the early 17c, many conventions were firmly established for both the dedicatory epistle and the address to the reader, the most basic of which was the expectation of their presence in most printed books." (103)
"The availability of the 'same Book' cheaper in the marketplace of print complicates the economics of dedications. Rather than possessing the exemplar of a manuscript, the dedicatee merely owns one of perhaps 1,000 copies of a printed book." (104)

Richard Robinson, Eupolemia, chronology of his printed works; first patrons most generous (about 20% of dedications in the period were single, one-time gestures; 108)

many books dedicated not to an acquaintance and sometimes were unwelcome; "King James I rebuked authors of unsolicited dedications even more sternly than Elizabeth had responded to Robinson, when he found the content of a presentation dangerous or offensive" (109)

Dekker, catalogue of villains includes men who scrape for money from dedications (110)

Walter Bailey, small books printed as New Year's gifts in the 1580s; dedicatory epistle was missing title, which could be personalized (112)

of 30k books surveyed in Williams's Index of Dedications, only 200 have dedications that change from one edition to the next (114); patron often not figured as the reader

"This separation of the categories of patrons and readers was a typical response to the conventions of dedication; by the 17c, Aemilia Lanyer's assumption that her patrons will read her work is unusual." (116)
"According to Aristotle, who greatly influenced early modern rhetorical theory, prefatory remarks are unnecessary if one has either a good case or a good audience. In doubt about their audience, many early modern authors and publishers composed prefaces that tried to shape and control the reception of their books. Three tactics, often used together, recur in many prefaces: the constructin of a 'gentle reader,' a bid for protection, and the opposition to a hostile reader." (116)

warning against censure without reading fully (119)

gentle reader = "the appreciation of a book developed through careful, repeated readings" (120)

"Several early modern metaphors for the published text -- embryo, infant, foundling, child, raped maiden -- play upon the vulnerability of the divulgated text and emphasize the reader's ability to protect it." (121)

Zoilus, Momus -- appear as cliches in prefaces (123)

"Though the letters often merely try to banish bad readers, some suggest new reading strategies to the Zoili, inviting them to read on without malice. Thus, even as prefaces continue to divide their audiences into stock categories -- learned and rude, noble and base, male and female -- the admonitory letters to the Zoili reveal a willingness to transform bad readers. In this new willingness, I believe, are the beginnings of the collapse of the rigid sex- and class-based distinctions of Henry VIII's proclamations that had restricted so many readers' access to books." (124-5)
"Printed marginalia continue the project of the preliminaries: they define the audience, forward the author's 'true' meaning, and promote a careful readin of the text." (125)

some genres didn't elicit much marginalia, like the sonnet sequence, the essay or the drama (127)

"Printed marginalia, I will argue, played a mroe diverse and complicated role in the early modern period than the mere erasure of ambiguity. Marginalia served as well to define an audience, protect the author's meaning, and forward particular habits of reading. In doing so, however, the marginalia also made text vulnerable to different interpretations and less attentive habits of reading." (127)

Tyler, printed marginalia alongside her preface "serve as a correction to Tyler's defense; while she may write the text, the printer has the final authority over its composition" (129)

"A Divine Descant" (129)

"The contrast between main text and margins, between pleasure and profit, suggests the interdependence of text and paratext, and it highlights the ability of the margins to transform the reading experience. Attention to the margins,t hat is, encourages certain habits of reading and redeems what might otherwise seem to be frivolous pleasures." (131)
"While reliable polemics and highly politicized works may have the most dramatic marginalia, most early modern books were annotated much less aggressively. Unlike the highly charged marginalia that negotiate religious and political controversy, most early modern marginalia threaten to disappear in their own banality. The most common annotations seem purely functional and neutral in their obviousness: the ubiquitous finding notes, cross-references, and glosses of foreign words and classical names." (131-2)

copy of Thomas Hyll's gardening book has been cut/folded so long marginalia can be ignored (132)

"Much as a patron's name could vouch for a work, so the identification fo the sources supports the text. Like the gentle reader who complies with prefatory requests for a friendly reading, the gentle reader of the marginalia enters into a dialogue with the author, following the sources and influences that lead to the author's 'best' meaning." (134)

Noting readers of the Arcadia in marginalia and commonplace books

Coote, instructs readers to mark hard word with a "pen or pin"

"Marks of active reading (deictics, underlining, summaries, cross-references, queries), to which I refer loosely as marginalia, suggest that the book is to be engaged, digested, and re-read. Marks of ownership (signatures, shelf marks, proprietary verses) distinguish a book as a physical object, to be protect, catalogued, inventoried, and valued. Marks of recording (debts, marriages, births, accounts) seem to reside somewhere in between: like ownership marks, they sugges that the book has physical value; like readers' marks, they convey that the book is a site of information. For each of these three kinds of notes, the book takes on a different role: as intellectual process, as valued object, and as available paper." (138)

bar of music on margin of Duwes An Introductories, Folger STC 7378

"Reading has surely never been a culturally monolithic and uniform activity; particularly unlikely is the existence of a single coherent set of reading strategies during a pivotal period in the history of reading. It is from 'microhistories,' therefore, that a history of reading can be built: stories of many readers, who have left material traces of both the common and the idiosyncratic practices in which they engaged." (141)
"Nowhere is the relation between print and manuscript culture more complicated, and nowhere are the roles of the writer and reader more blurred than in the early modern commonplace book." (143)

few women commonplaces; Mor'e daughters, Princess Mary (144)

"The humanist commonplace book offered a system for making reading more profitable, especially for inexperienced readers: students would remember texts more accurately and begin to accumulate a storehouse of examples and stylistic flourishes from which they could draw in conversation and writing." (145)

headings equalize genres, transfer into script "visually unifies many entries" (146)

Bacon involves a servant in commonplacing; "thus makes collaborative, or perhaps menial, an activity that might otherwise seem deeply personal and private" (149)

"generic richness" of Arcadia (149)

  • "It was both an expensive folio and the source of chapbook spin-offs. Presented to a female audience in its title, preliminaries, and textual asides, the Arcadia is cast as an object for feminine diversion. Yet, despite Sidney's protestations that the romance was 'but a trifle, and that triflingly handled,' the printing of the text presents the Arcadia as something far more substantial." (150)
  • printed line numbers -- makes it a text "worth citing" (150)
"Caught up in two contradictory positions, Sidney's Arcadia is at once attacked as the object of excessive and unhealthy feminine attention and held up as an exemplar of masculine style." (153)
"For those who would restrict women's reading, Sidney's Arcadia had come to represent all that is dangerous to female readerS: an erotic narrative, it will lead them away from devotion towards diversion or, perhaps worse, away from housewifery and into writing." (155)

flowers tucked in copies of the Arcadia; shadow of scissors in The First Folio of Shakespeare mentioned in Blayney (159)

cross-references/markings that allow one to read the quarto text within the folio (167)

"Readers often mimic printed apparatus in their own interactions with a text, either supplying missing apparatus or following its form when adding their own. Yet printers did not always take the lead: sometimes, as here, they published an apparatus belatedly, after readers had improvised one." (174)

poetry privileged in library catalogues on commonplace books (176); hard to identify prose copying

commonplace book that is inseparable from a particular collection (178) -- "demonstrates just how private and tailored at ool the commonplace book often was"

"By taking up a pen, a reader transforms both the text and the actiity of reading: the annotator privileges certain moments, the indexer restrings plots, and the keeper of a commomnplace book fragments the text." (182)
"By transferring the read text into his or her own handwriting, the compiler appropriates and transforms the text, nearly collapsing the roles of reader and writer. This act of transcription commonly transforms the text visually, syntactically, and contextually." (182)
"semblance of fluidiity between these excerpts radically decontextualizes them, imposing a new order on Greene's work" (185)

devotional book -- John Egerton emended "all the collects to transform them into private prayers. Having underlined the first person plural in the text, he added in the margin 'me & all' to precede 'thy people' in the text, presumably reading his singular version aloud." (195)

Consuming readers: Ladies, lapdogs, and libraries

history of reading has often elided women readers; "for the cultural and material practices that discouraged women from annotating their books have also made it difficult for modern scholars to write them into the emerging history of reading" (196)

"In concert with the urgings of conduct books, English laws provided little room for women's public performance of reading. The application of benefit of clergy in the 16 and 17c acknowledged and reward the oral performance of reading by men but not by women." (198)
"But not until 1691 could women claim this privilege for anything beyond petty theft." (198)

Henry's 1543 Act repealed early in EVI's reign but "the gender distinction it codified persisted throughout th early modern period in both educational practices and conduct manual prescriptions" (199)

The Vanity of Thoughts Discovered (1637), "which rails against romances and playbooks as 'the curious needleworke of idle braines'" (205)

Margaret Hoby, Mr Rhods reading to her while she embroiders (206)

"The imagined posture of lap reading not only made annotation unlikely, but also trivilized and eroticized women's reading." (207)
"In opposition to the reading of schoolbooks or devotional works, gentlewomen's secular reading was constructed as trivial and passive, though sometimes morally perilous. For the women depicted in these literary accounts, secular books were diversions, interchangeable with trifles, needlework, and lapdogs." (207)
"In a portrait that includes books, a male sitter typically demonstrates an active connection and engagement with the text; often seated in a study, he is frequently surrounded by books, many of them opened, and by other signs of learnedness, and he often marks his engagement by writing. Even in portraits of less scholarly men, the subject often fingers a book, keeping his place as he is interrupted by the gaze of the painter or viewer. This physical contact with the book visually defines the literate man, and it shows up in literary accounts as well." (210)
"Contemporary portraits of early modern women typically depict closed books as props or mere decoration. Unlike subjects of analogous portraits of men, feamle sitters often do not even make physical contact with the books within the frame. Open books -- books in use -- are masculine; clasped books, like chaste women, are feminine." (211)
"Conduct books urged women to be silent, self-contained, 'solitarie and withdrawne.' While such admonitions most directly relate to women's interactions with their husbands and other men, they might also apply to women's ineractions with books." (212)
"The margins of early modern books were often not the private spaces we might suppose they were. As books circulated within households, the margins were actually a fairly public space, inviting the marks of many hands, but also putting those hands on display." (212)

gendered prefaces of Lyly's Euphues; "Though Lyly asks both gentlewomen and gentlemen for their complicity as readers, masculine complicity produces collaborative corrections, whiel female complicity yields silence." (213)

possibility hat early modern women kept their reading concealed, like an engraving inside a gold ring

wives' wills make up less than 1% of total wills between 1558-1700

Clifford, triptych portrait

Rainbowe sermon, describing Clifford's sententiae on her wall; "In the division of labor described here, the scene might at first seem to maintain the dichotomy between masculine writing and feminine sewing, between penning and pinning, for it si the male 'Servants' who transcribe the sentences and the female 'Maids' who 'pin' them o the bed and hangings. Yet Clifford commands all this writing as she 'caus[es]' them to transcribe the sentences that she recalls from her reading. Even as the hierarchy of mistress and servant is announced in Clifford's direction of this scene, it gives way to the more communal access to and use of the 'Papers' as both servants, maids, and mistress 'make their descants on them.' The passage is significant too in its revelation of a combination of learning and domesticity: Clifford, now an old woman, seems to be merging the worlds of predestination and sleave-silk again, bringing the humanist model of the commonplace book into her bedchamber and performing there an activity more often assicated with the masculine realms of the university or study." (231)

Nicholas Bacon, transformed a hall into a reading room in prep for visit from Queen Elizabeth; "walls of which were ecorated with sententiae ordered under commonplace-book headings" (231)

"Her act of surrounding herself with pages from books, a gesture that suggest an intense desire for learning, is cast in terms of household economy and service. Potentially an act of feverish acquisitiveness for knowledge and perhaps intellectual bossiness, Clifford's transformation of her bedchamber is praised for advancing her conversation skills and demonstrating her effectiveness as her servants' mistress." (232)

members of household read to Clifford

Ellesmere traveling library (242)

contemporary special collections separate libraries; what can reconstructing them tell us about the history of reading?

description of Lady Bridgewater's closet, describes richly embroidered cloths (246)

"The breadth of the Countess's library suggests a resistance to the expectations of publishers and authors for women's reading." (249)

unlike Clifford, Lady Bridgewater "does not ripple the historical record with signs of curiosity, resistance, or exceptional intelligence" -- yet her library collection is interesting still in that "its existence deos not seem to have been considered worthy of remark. And if a woman's library of 241 volumes did not warrant attention in 1633, then we must expand our notions of early modern women as consumers of books." (253)

"The women whose traces i have tried to uncover in this book may seem to have been passive and silent if we assume that active reading requires a written record or response, but women often demonstrated otherwise that books played an important role in their lives. Many gentlewomen displayed the importance of their book ownership in material ways: in elaborate bindings, careful catalogues, commissioned portraits, gift exchanges, and final bequests." (254)
"For many women, perhaps, it was in their physical control of books -- what we might call their consumption -- that is, in their binding, organizing, cataloguing, and bestowal, that they demonstrated to others their engagement with the world of books. Books, after all, may have been accommodated more easily as household objects than as discursive texts. for the many women who collected, read, and shared their books, books were not mere ornaments; they were tools that enriched these women's lives and expanded the world they inhabited. Their books may have been closeted away or tumbled on a few shelves, but reading helped them define their lives." (254)