Richards and Schurink 2010

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"The Textuality and Materiality of Reading in Early Modern England." Edited by Jennifer Richards and Fred Schurink. Huntington Library Quarterly 73.3 (September 2010).

Introduction (Richards and Schurink)

Argue that not just use but "reading" remains useful category, "and we argue for ar enewed focus on the 'textuality' of reading alongside the materiality of the book" (345)

"there are limitations too. It is easy to forget that readers not only owned books, but that they also often engaged with texts, sometimes carelessly or opportunistically, but sometimes quite closely." (348)

"Models of utilitarian reading have often encouraged literary scholars to neglect the text. The focus on the records of reading—for example, marginalia and commonplace books—in isolation from other sources, and especially more literary, textual sources, and from the context of their use in early modern England has brought many scholars to the conclusion that contemporary readers tended to extract brief quotations with scant respect for their meaning and context in the larger text, and furthermore, that annotators and compilers of commonplace books read not to understand or appreciate texts on their own terms but with an eye to the application of these detachable textual fragments to the circumstances of their own lives." (351)
"To be blunt, if one’s only evidence of reading is fragments of texts, what conclusions can be drawn other than that readers “read in parts,” most likely out of self-interest?" (352)
"The dissolution of the original text into discrete fragments was not an end in itself but merely a first step in a process that was ultimately directed to the creation of new, and often morally thoughtful, writing." (353) -- discussing schoolboy manuals

Reading Graffiti in the Early Modern Book (Jason Scott-Warren)

Drawing on Fleming 2001, "seeks to explore what might be gained by considering various kinds of marks in books as forms of graffiti" (364)

Marks on title pages as marking the self, "I was here" (drawing on theory of Renaissance signature as in Goldberg 1990)

names: "most prominent" form of graffiti in books (366); "tagging" books, even books that aren't one's own ("John Rogers / not his book"); abundance of signatures marking more than ownership -- "pen-trial" marks

"just as the modern graffiti artist asserts his or her literacy, where 'literacy' means mastery of the complext writing styles and graphic effects available to the wielder of the spray can, so too those signing their names in early modern books make a statement about the intermingling of their technical command -- of writing, of the plume -- and their identity." (371)

locative: "blank spaces offered a means not just to assert the self but also to place it" (373)

"The examples I have given all tie loci in the book to loci in the world traversed by the book’s owner or reader. But it might be objected that this is not the same as the performative “having been present” of graffiti, that it is more “Kilroy was there” than “Kilroy was here.” What of the book in itself as a locus? Or, to put it more forthrightly: what sort of a place was the page in early modern England? After all, it would seem to be a requirement of graffiti that it should inhabit a shared space, that it not be closedoff or private. But it is hard not to think of the owning and reading of books as privatizing activities; indeed, we might trace a kind of voyeurism, a desire to pry into the intimate transactions of lost inner lives, in the allure of the history of reading." (373) -- book as personal property, but also book as "quasi-public environment" (375), where readers left prayers, shamed authors (branding their books as with a scarlet letter), marking their obediences

publicness vs. privateness of the page

"It tells of a world in which books were adjuncts to everyday sociability. They were passed around, and as they circulated, aspects of communal life -- the negotiation of relationships, the debating of reputations -- rubbed off on them." (378-9)

Marks are "not merely as evidence of reading but also and more broadly as part of what we might call the anthropology of the book. Such an anthropology would aspire to reconstruct the place of the book in the changing textures of personal, social, and material life, showing how books found their place in the fashioning of individual identities, in the negotiation of relationships, and in encounters with the world of things. In its unfolding, that project would also reveal far more fully what this survey of bibliographic graffiti has brought to light—the unexpected vitality of books as vehicles for many kinds of life-writing." (380)

Chastising with Scorpions: Reading the Old Testament in Early Modern England, Kevin Killeen (491-506)

"Biblical exposition constitutes a key resource in discerning the reading protocols of the era—by far the most significant in terms of bulk, the most prestigious in terms of its complexity, and the most rigorously theorized. The Bible has, of course, not been ignored in thinking about the history of reading, but it has often been conceived in material terms rather than in relation to the details and content of its exposition." (492)

"The Bible demanded of early modern readers a sense of omnipresent history, in which God speaks to the political moment via a stock of exemplary prefigurations, which interpreters must map onto their own immediate circumstances. Tracing such practices will bring us back to a consideration of the role of the scriptures as a political thesaurus and mirror of the present." (493)

"biblical rulers served less as a kind of direct mirror for a particular early modern king or, indeed, protector, but rather as a nuanced and adaptable language to voice complaints about oppression and deprivation as much as rebellion and usurpation. In so doing, this essay will endeavor to reinvigorate the notion of typology as a productive, troublesome, and astonishingly versatile tool in the arsenal of early modern readers." (493)

"The typological shifts by which the figures of the Old Testament could be prefigurative of both the New and of contemporary events are supported by a complex reading theory that insists on a constant negotiation of meaning between text and event and a perpetual modulation between the divine political presence in the Bible and the providential “evidence” of God’s action in the present." (495)

"Bible acts as a kind of hermeneutic vacuum cleaner, sucking up and altering the contours of every object that it comes into exegetical contact with" (496-7)

"The Bible, deemed to transpose and alter everything it comes in contact with, is both an interpretative prism and a historical palimpsest of contemporary events." (497)

Is this "reading"?

""Application” of the Bible to the present in the seventeenth century was not seen as an arbitrary drawing of a moral, nor even as an instance of political exemplarity, in the same way that Livy might present an imitable model for action. It constituted rather the intrinsic manifesting of and opening of the present through the Bible’s interpretative engine. In many such formulations, it is the Bible that reads the person or the political crisis, rather than the reverse, and as such it resisted mere political expediency." (497)

"The reader is mere conduit for and observer of the omnipresent time of divine action." -- "this reading-writing strategy produces what I would see as the consummate early modern political lexis, the common currency of the pulpit, repeated across court sermons and in dissenting parish churches as a primary mode of reading the scriptures." (498)

The "adatability of scriptural kings, as well as the breadth and longevity of these typological modes of reading" (503)