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Nostalgia in Print and Performance, 1510–1613
Merry Worlds


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  • Date Published: October 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108711807

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Challenges existing historiography to offer a new insight into the invention of 'Merry England' in the sixteenth century
    • Explores the relationship between early modern broadside ballads and the theatre
    • Reframes the ostensibly limiting components of broadside ballads - repetition and conventionality - as key to their appeal
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    • Shortlisted, 2020 Shakespeare's Globe Book Award

    Reviews & endorsements

    '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, The Review of English Studies

    'Phillips offers an important, in-depth, and dense reading contextualized culturally and etymologically.' J. S. Carducci, 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, Modern Philology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108711807
    • length: 251 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the merry worlds of merry England
    1. Merry worlds: Tudor nostalgia
    2. Dreamless art for the people: cheap print and catharsis
    3. Common people: drama and dialogue
    4. Martin and anti-Martin, 1588–90
    5. Merry histories, 1598–99
    6. Shakespeare's Ballads, 1598–1610
    7. The merry worlds of Windsor in 1600

  • Author

    Harriet Phillips, Queen Mary University of London
    Harriet Phillips is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in English at Queen Mary University of London. Her research focuses on literature, popular culture and book history between 1500 and 1800. Her work has appeared in Shakespeare, Review of English Studies, Renaissance Studies, Parergon and Studies in Philology. She co-edited A Handbook of Editing Early Modern Texts (2018), and is co-editing Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica (forthcoming).


    • Shortlisted, 2020 Shakespeare's Globe Book Award

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