Vagrant Writing: Social and Semiotic Disorders in the English Renaissance
Published: December 1991© 1991
258 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Ebook - PDF
Vagrant Writing addresses the semiotic dimension of social change in Renaissance England. From tracta against cosmetics to the Jonsonian masque, from coney-catching pamphlets to the theology of Hooker, Barry Taylor explores what happens to Tudor and Jacobean practices of writing when the ideology of the Word which underpins them -- an ideology of fixed, metaphysically anchored meaning -- must interpret, regulate and contain a social order undergoing radical transformation.
The semiotic power of social disorder, the social power of a disorderly semiotics: it is at that intersection of disruptive forces that Vagrant Writing establishes its enquiry. Embracing such topics as the relationship of writing, usury and Narcissism, the links between literary translation and the regulation of female sexuality, the fragmentation of writerly authority and subjectivity in the literary marketplace, and the politics of allegorical interpretation, the book offers a series of connected readings which is at once closely detailed and ambitiously extensive in scope.
In its own trespassings beyond the confines of the literary canon and across disciplinary boundaries, Vagrant Writing opens up new directions within the field of English Renaissance writing. In doing so, it makes available fresh perspectives on the relationship between social and discursive domains, and on the paradoxical, self-disputing energies of the Renaissance text.
'Vagrant Writing is an outstanding book. It derives from a creative encounter between semiotics and cultural materialism. What that means in practice is that Taylor aims not to re-read the past through theoretical lenses, but to think about it differently in order to understand it better. Wide ranging socio-economic, ideological and historical issues are focused in woderfully perceptive analyses of texts. Vagrant Writing is indispensable for us all, teachers and students alike, of history and literature.'JONATHAN DOLLIMORE, Reader, School of English and American Studies, Sussex University
'Vagrant Writing ranks among the best contributions to English Renaissance studies that I have read in recent years. It is not only a substantial analytical achievement but also a stylistic tour de force. Reading that book I got not only a flavour of the excitement of recent theoretical developments, but also a sense of a new critical paradigm being consolidated. I am confident that this will be regarded as a classical piece of scholarly analysis and exposition for a long time to come.'MALCOLM EVANS, author of Signifying Nothing: Truth's True Contents in Shakespeare's Text