Old Forms, New Meanings: Publication and Technology in the Spenser-Harvey Letters
Under the rubric "Old Forms, New Meanings" I shall discuss a volume of letters published anonymously in 1580 but known to be authored by Edmund Spenser and Gabriel Harvey. Although the volume was mocked in its own time and has received almost no sustained attention in our own, an examination of the "Letters" has much to teach us about media and technology, not only in its own time, but in ours. Just as today those in the humanities both embrace and feel threatened by changing technologies, so Spenser and Harvey self-consciously negotiate their relationship to the manuscript tradition and the emerging technology of print. Further, because the letters as printed are "out of order", with letters dated earlier appearing after letters dated later, the volume, like hypertext, solicits multiple readings. Thus, these authors, in the midst of a technology shift similar to the one we are experiencing today, explore issues of authorship, readership, text, and technology relevant to the humanities in our own time.
Keywords: Publication, Technology, Authorship, Readership
Dr. Eva Gold
Professor, English Department, Southeastern Louisiana University