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Words That Matter
Linguistic Perception in Renaissance English

Judith H. Anderson


1996

352 pp.
ISBN: 9780804726313
Cloth $70.00

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“An extraordinary achievement that should have an enduring impact on future historical, literary, cultural, and technological studies of the early modern period and the English Renaissance in particular.”—Harry Berger, Jr., University of California, Santa Cruz

The grammar and rhetoric of Tudor and Stuart England prioritized words and word-like figures rather than sentences, a prioritizing that had significant consequences for linguistic representation. Among these was a heightened awareness of the equivocal “thingness” of language, whether verbal units like proverbs, inscriptions, and biblical quotations or individuated words such as lexical entries, Latin tags, and verbal icons. The author shows how the new or newly important technologies of printing and lexicography contributed substantially to this awareness.

As symptom and cause these technologies participated in a growing cultural emphasis on externalized expression and on the material world. Both perceptually and materially they engaged the contemporary epistemological shift from essence to meaning and from referential object to word.

Judith H. Anderson is Professor of English at Indiana University. She is the author of Biographical Truth: The Representation of Historical Persons in Tudor-Stuart England and The Growth of a Personal Voice: "Piers Plowman" and "The Faerie Queene."



Subject link:     Literary Studies

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