Renaissance Paratexts

Helen Smith (Editor), Louise Wilson (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In his 1987 work Paratexts, the theorist Gérard Genette established physical form as crucial to the production of meaning. Here, experts in early modern book history, materiality and rhetorical culture present a series of compelling explorations of the architecture of early modern books. The essays challenge and extend Genette's taxonomy, exploring the paratext as both a material and a conceptual category. Renaissance Paratexts takes a fresh look at neglected sites, from imprints to endings, and from running titles to printers' flowers. Contributors' accounts of the making and circulation of books open up questions of the marking of gender, the politics of translation, geographies of the text and the interplay between reading and seeing. As much a history of misreading as of interpretation, the collection provides novel perspectives on the technologies of reading and exposes the complexity of the playful, proliferating and self-aware paratexts of English Renaissance books.

Sample of Reviews
'A fine contribution to the broader effort to reconceptualize authorship by understanding texts as collaborative enterprises constituted by writers, printers, publishers, patrons, and readers.'
-- Catherine Molineux, Shakespeare Quarterly

'This collection is an excellent contribution to a lively and fast-moving field and is likely to leave many readers more gimlet-eyed than when they started. ... Renaissance Paratexts is the most important contribution to this topic since Genette, and it will be interesting to see if scholars from other periods follow suit.'
-- Dunstan Roberts, Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies
'The essays ... richly extend and further complicate the field and the kinds of consideration that it might invite.'
-- Tom Lockwood, Early Modern Literary Studies
'A thought-provoking collection ...  these case studies underscore the value of studying often-overlooked physical elements of published books [opening] a window onto unwritten complexities -- social, geographical, gendered.'
-- Margaret Schotte, Renaissance et Reforme

'Well-known for their work on the topics on which they write in this volume, the contributing authors have a lot to say and they bring to light a wealth of neglected historical material.'
-- Ivan Lupic, Renaissance Quarterly
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages288
ISBN (Print)9780521117395, 9781107463424
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Paratexts

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