Cover of Words That Matter by Judith H. Anderson
Words That Matter
Linguistic Perception in Renaissance English
Judith H. Anderson


352 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804726313



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.

About the author

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."

“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