Throughout the seventeenth century, early modern play readers and playgoers copied dramatic extracts (selections from plays and masques) into their commonplace books, verse miscellanies, diaries, and songbooks. Dramatic Extracts in Seventeenth-Century English Manuscripts: Watching, Reading, Changing Plays is the first to examine these often overlooked texts, which reveal what early modern audiences and readers took, literally and figuratively, from plays. As this under-examined archival evidence shows, play readers and playgoers viewed plays as malleable and modular texts to be altered, appropriated, and, most importantly, used. These records provide information that is not available in other forms about the popularity and importance of early modern plays, the reasons plays appealed to their audiences, and the ideas in plays that most interested audiences.
Tracing the course of dramatic extracting from the earliest stages in the 1590s, through the prolific manuscript circulation at the universities, to the closure and reopening of the theatres, Estill gathers these microhistories to create a comprehensive overview of seventeenth-century dramatic extracts and the culture of extracting from plays. Dramatic Extracts in Seventeenth-Century English Manuscripts: Watching, Reading, Changing Plays explores new archival evidence (from John Milton's signature to unpublished university plays) while also analyzing the popularity of perennial favorites such as Shakespeare's The Tempest. The study of dramatic extracts is the study of particulars: particular readers, particular manuscripts, particular plays or masques, particular historic moments. As D. F. McKenzie puts it, "different readers [bring] the text to life in different ways." By providing careful analyses of these rich source texts, this book shows how active play-viewing and play-reading (that is, extracting) ultimately led to changing the plays themselves, both through selecting and manipulating the extracts and positioning the plays in new contexts.
Publisher: University of Delaware Press
Number of pages: 284
Weight: 544 g
Dimensions: 237 x 159 x 26 mm
With this book Laura Estill establishes herself as an important scholar of book and manuscript history and an authority on the reception of English Renaissance drama to 1700. . . .These selections are most often found either in commonplace books or in more heterogeneous miscellanies. Here Estill surveys that archive as a guide for future researchers, also providing many illuminating, exemplary, and thought-provoking analyses informed by relevant scholarship. . . .This crucially important book delivers what early modern reception studies needs most: more evidence. With its command of primary and secondary sources and resourceful case studies, it points the way for future scholarship and demonstrates how that scholarship can proceed. * The Review of English Studies *
Laura Estill's new book enriches and extends scholarly interest in early modern reading practices and shows how those practices can help us understand dramatic texts of the era. Many of us were introduced to early modern reading practices through the quirks of Gabriel Harvey annotating his Livy; this left the unfortunate impression that reading was an altogether idiosyncratic art. Laura Estill's survey of dramatic extracts in the manuscripts of seventeenth-century England provides a corrective to that very singular picture. Using drama as her focusing genre, and examining an impressive array of archival materials, Estill methodically itemizes and evaluates the ways in which early readers recorded the plays of early modern England.... It is one of the many virtues of this admirable study that it encourages, even as it paves the way for, future inquiry into its rich archive. * Early Theatre *
Laura Estill's Dramatic Extracts in Seventeenth-Century English Manuscripts presents numerous new and original arguments relevant to historical manuscript and play scholarship. It is an essential read for all scholars of Shakespearian and Restoration drama, and of early scribal and print cultures of England.... Estill remains true to the body of research documents at hand, never letting barriers of access to physical material evidence at a distance impede the progress of her research: it is hard to imagine all the planning and detail-checking that Estill must have done to bring together seamlessly analysis of so many handwritten excerpt-miscellanies.... [This book] lays the groundwork for a new method of studying and editing early modern texts. * SHARP News *
With this book Laura Estill establishes herself as an important scholar of book and
manuscript history and an authority on the reception of English Renaissance drama to
1700. The book defines and explores the most extensive archive pertinent to that reception
history, dramatic extracts.... This crucially important book delivers what early modern reception studies needs most: more evidence. With its command of primary and secondary sources and resourceful case studies, it points the way for future scholarship and demonstrates how that scholarship can proceed. * Oxford Journals *