Through its many and varied manifestations, authority has frequently played a role in the communication process in both manuscript and print. This volume explores how authority, whether religious, intellectual, political or social, has enforced the circulation of certain texts and text versions, or acted to prevent the distribution of books, pamphlets and other print matter. It also analyzes how readers, writers and printers have sometimes rebelled against the constraints and restrictions of authority, publishing controversial works anonymously or counterfeiting authoritative texts; and how the written or printed word itself has sometimes been perceived to have a kind of authority, which might have had ramifications in social, political or religious spheres. Contributors look at the experience of various European cultures-English, French, German and Italian-to allow for comparative study of a number of questions pertinent to the period. Among the issues explored are local and regional factors influencing book production; the interplay between manuscript and print culture; the slippage between authorship and authority; and the role of civic and religious authority in cultural production. Deliberately conceived to foster interdisciplinary dialogue between the history of the book, and literary and cultural history, this volume takes a pan-European perspective to explore the ways in which authority infiltrates and is in turn propagated or undermined by book culture.
'Impressively careful and fine-grained scholarship...very valuable for historians or historicist literary scholars of the period who study book culture or material culture' Renaissance Quarterly 'Taken together, [the essays] serve to ground the notion of authority in the materiality of manuscripts and printed books, and they encourage us to think more critically about how texts came to be regarded as authoritative.' Cahiers de Recherches Médiévales et Humanistes 'Pollie Bromilow presents a cohesive and engaging series of chapters that makes a positive contribution to our appreciation of aspects of authority in early modern print culture. The ostensible objective of the volume is to question the notion of ’authority as an enduring value that has the same presumed sources, agency and effects in the pre-modern period as in the twenty-first century’ ... Bromilow’s careful selection of contributions ensures that the volume achieves its goal of effectively problematising this assumption, while individual chapters remain united in voice and relevant both to each other and current scholarship in the field more broadly.' Parergon '[Bromilow] presents a fresh perspective on the role of authority in late medieval and early modern book production and distribution, and does so in a nuanced and thought-provoking manner. As such, it will appeal to anyone with an interest in the socio-political context of the European book culture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.' CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Newsletter