Goe thou forth my booke : authorial self-assertion and self-representation in printings of renaissance poetry
Renchler, Ronald S.
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Renchler, Ronald S.
The introduction of printing into England created new opportunities for the Renaissance poet to represent himself more forcefully as a literary artist concerned with the well-being or improvement of his culture and to make public his desire for recognition as a contributor to England's literary heritage. One of the primary ways he could do so was to create a distinctive image of himself in his printed works. He could communicate his chosen image in two ways: in a traditional way, by using the language and content of his poetry, and in a new way--primarily visual rather than linguistic--by conveying an image through textual features made possible with the advent of printing. For example, a poet could guarantee that he would receive perpetual credit for his work and he could link authorship and book directly in the consciousness of his readers by seeing to it that his name was placed prominently on the title page. He could include an address to his readers, advertize his previously published works, or give information about forthcoming books. He could define himself by using mottoes or insignia or symbolic devices. Perhaps most significantly, he could include a physical image of himself in the form of a woodcut or engraved portrait. This study attempts to enlarge our understanding of the individual author's role in shaping the Renaissance literary system by analyzing both the linguistic and nonlinguistic features of the printed texts of four Renaissance poets: John Skelton, John Heywood, Thomas Churchyard, and John Taylor. It investigates the way these poets integrated their poetry with the physical features of their printed books in order to gain widespread recognition and to persuade their readers of the value of their contributions to Renaissance literary culture.
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