Reading by Hand: Manuscript Poetry and Readerly Identities in Renaissance England


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation reconstructs the reading practices of persons living in the English Renaissance, 1530-1700. It contends that reading constitutes a mode of identity performance and probes the copious archive of readers’ manuscript documents recording their use of erotic lyric poetry to consider the types of identities they performed in the period. It both recovers apparently paradoxical identities like ‘misogynistic femininity,’ the performance of feminine identity via reiteration of misogynistic poetic conventions, and finds unexpected subtlety in apparently more straightforward identities, like misogynistic masculinity. It ultimately offers a revised literary history of the Renaissance that includes the activities—and identities—of readers in its broadened scope.