Early Modern Histories of Time
The Periodizations of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century England
by Kristen Poole, Owen Williams
Early Modern Histories of Time examines how a range of chronological modes intrinsic to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries shaped the thought-worlds of those living during this time and explores how these temporally indigenous models can productively influence our own working concepts of historical period. This innovative approach thus moves beyond debates about where we should divide linear time (and what to call the ensuing segments) to reconsider the very concept of "period." Bringing together an eminent cast of literary scholars and historians, the volume develops productive historical models by drawing on the very texts and cultural contexts that are their objects of study. What happens to the idea of "period" when English literature is properly placed within the dynamic currents of pan-European literary phenomena? How might we think of historical period through the palimpsested nature of buildings, through the religious concept of the secular, through the demographic model of the life cycle, even through the repetitive labor of laundering? From theology to material culture to the temporal constructions of Shakespeare, and from the politics of space to the poetics of typology, the essays in this volume take up diverse, complex models of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century temporality and contemplate their current relevance for our own ideas of history. The volume thus embraces the ambiguity inherent in the word "contemporary," moving between our subjects' sense of self-emplacement and the historiographical need to address the questions and concerns that affect us today.
Contributors: Douglas Bruster, Euan Cameron, Heather Dubrow, Kate Giles, Tim Harris, Natasha Korda, Julia Reinhard Lupton, Kristen Poole, Ethan H. Shagan, James Simpson, Nigel Smith, Mihoko Suzuki, Gordon Teskey, Julianne Werlin, Owen Williams, Steven N. Zwicker.
"All the essays in the book make as much use of the concept of 'period' and 'periodization' as possible. The essays approach the writing of a literary history through engaging with historiography and their practitioners, as starting points. The breadth of the critical vision, the magnitude of the task handled, and the inclusion of many original angles will make this book invaluable for anyone writing a literary history, writing about a literary history, and thinking about the very nature of literary and cultural histories in the early modern period."—Renaissance and Reformation
"The scope of this volume is ambitious. Poole and Williams explain that they aim to explore both how modern scholars use ‘the idea of historical periods’ and how the early moderns ‘understood chronology, antecedent, and temporal division...[T]he volume makes its readers aware of just how engrained periodisation is in modern academic thought and how difficult it is to constructively overcome its boundaries. That in itself is a valuable contribution and its contents will be of interest to any scholars interested in the ongoing debates concerning periodisation, its known shortcomings, and its possible revisions."—Erudition and the Republic of Letters
"A provocative and illuminating volume. Its breadth of topics and approaches adds to its utility and appeal not only for literary scholars but also for historians. It will be the standard reference on historical periodization for years to come."—Zachary S. Schiffman, Northeastern Illinois University
"Early Modern Histories of Time is a tremendously exciting and genuinely multidisciplinary collection of essays by historically engaged literary scholars juxtaposed with excellent contributions from political, religious, and archaeological historians."—Evelyn Tribble, University of Connecticut