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Nostalgia in Print and Performance, 1510–1613
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Book description

For many people in early modern England the Reformation turned the past into another country: the 'merry world'. Nostalgia for this imaginary time, both widespread and widely contested, was commodified by a burgeoning entertainment industry. This book offers a new perspective on the making of 'Merry England', arguing that it was driven both by the desires of audiences and the marketing strategies of writers, publishers and playing companies. Nostalgia in Print and Performance juxtaposes plays with ballads and pamphlets, just as they were experienced by their first consumers. It argues that these commercial fictions played a central role in promoting and shaping nostalgia. At the same time, the fantasy of the merry world offered a powerfully affective language for conceptualising longing. For playwrights like Shakespeare and others writing for the commercial stage, it became a way to think through the dynamics of audience desire and the aesthetics of repetition.


'Harriet Phillips' study is an exceptionally fine work. Her readings of individual literary texts, canonical and non-canonical alike, are consistently sharp, and are elegantly placed at the service of the wider argument. This book will be ranked among the most important recent studies of the place of the past in early modern England.'

Philip Schwyzer - University of Exeter

‘… a richly rewarding and comprehensive study … Nostalgia in Print and Performance [, 1510–1613] represents groundbreaking new readings of work and periods too often treated separately by literary scholarship.’

Andy Kesson Source: The Review of English Studies

‘Phillips offers an important, in-depth, and dense reading contextualized culturally and etymologically.’

J. S. Carducci Source: Choice

‘In this smart, thoughtful, and important book … Harriet Phillips offers a welcome and rich expansion of early modern scholarship on nostalgia. As its subtitle suggests, this book challenges us to think critically about how early modern nostalgia could not only or exclusively commodify, but how it enabled collaboration and collective fantasy between writers and their readers and audiences.’

Kristine Johanson Source: Modern Philology

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