Reading by Design: The Visual Interfaces of the English Renaissance Book
Renaissance readers perceived the print book as both a thing and a medium - a thing that could be broken or reassembled, and a visual medium that had the power to reflect, transform, or deceive. At the same historical moment that print books remediated the visual and material structures of manuscript and oral rhetoric, the relationship between vision and perception was fundamentally called into question.
Investigating this crisis of perception, Pauline Reid argues that the visual crisis that suffuses early modern English thought also imbricates sixteenth- and seventeenth-century print materials. These vision troubles in turn influenced how early modern books and readers interacted. Platonic, Aristotelian, and empirical models of sight vied with one another in a culture where vision had a tenuous relationship to external reality. Through situating early modern books’ design elements, such as woodcuts, engravings, page borders, and layouts, as important rhetorical components of the text, Reading by Design articulates how the early modern book responded to epistemological crises of perception and competing theories of sight.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 304 pages
- Illustrations: 55
- Dimensions: 6.6in x 1.0in x 9.3in
"Reading by Design explores the printed book’s unstable visual interfaces as a way of charting early modern theories about perception and knowledge. The broad range of material covered, including almanacs, emblem books, maps, and woodcuts, is to be applauded, and the effort made to connect more obviously ‘literary’ forms to their non-literary counterparts is one of this book’s major strengths."
Abigail Shinn, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London
Author InformationPauline Reid is an assistant teaching professor at the University of Denver's Writing Program.
Table of contents
List of Illustrations
1. Through a Looking-Glass: Rhetorical Vision and Imagination in William Caxton’s Mirrour and Description of the World and Stephen Hawes’s Pastime of Pleasure
2. Memory Machines or Ephemera? Early Modern Annotated Almanacs, Edmund Spenser’s Shepheardes Calender, and the Problem of Recollection
3. Devising the Page: Poly-olbion’s Troubled Boundaries
4. Image and Illusion in Francis Quarles’s Emblems and Pamphlets: Duplication, Duality, Duplicity
5. Dead Lambs, False Miracles, and “Taintured Nests”: The Crisis of Visual Ecologies in Shakespeare’s 2 Henry VI
Conclusion: Mediated Vision
Subjects and Courses