17 Jun 2021


19:00 - 20:30

Amy Lidster: Textual Communities: Reading Imprints in Early Modern English Books

Watch a preview here.
Title-page imprints quickly became an important and distinctive feature of printed books published across Europe during the early modern period. They supply crucial details about the stationers involved in an edition and its place of publication, such as the location of the printing house and/or the bookshop where copies could be purchased wholesale. However, this talk argues that, in addition to their practical function, imprints carry interpretative significance, which has often been critically overlooked. Imprints can shape the reading experience and the ways in which individuals approach a text. They can enter into its fictive world, blurring the boundary between text and paratext. Imprints also help to construct the reputations of the stationers and the places they name. They can be used to plot communities of booksellers and understand why publishers invested in certain texts. This talk will move through a selection of examples from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English books, with an emphasis on news publications, political pamphlets, and early modern drama, including the works of Shakespeare. By concentrating on the imprint, this talk offers new ways of looking at these texts and recovering evidence about the networks of stationers who invested in them and shaped their reception.

Dr Amy Lidster is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at King’s College London, and will soon be joining Jesus College, University of Oxford as a Departmental Lecturer in English Language and Literature. Her research concentrates on Shakespeare, early modern drama, and book history. Amy’s first book – Publishing the History Play in the Time of Shakespeare: Stationers Shaping A Genre – is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. This book offers a reappraisal of the ‘history play’ by demonstrating how the publication process and its agents have helped to define, develop, and ‘read’ the genre. Amy’s work has also been published widely in edited collections and journals, including Shakespeare Survey, Shakespeare Studies, Renaissance Drama, English: Journal of the English Association, and Old St Paul’s and Culture (Palgrave, 2021).

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