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Ways of Writing

Ways of Writing: The Practice and Politics of Text-Making in Seventeenth-Century New England

David D. Hall
Series: Material Texts
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 248
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fj1h6
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    Ways of Writing
    Book Description:

    Writers abounded in seventeenth-century New England. From the moment of colonization and constantly thereafter, hundreds of people set pen to paper in the course of their lives, some to write letters that others recopied, some to compose sermons as part of their life work as ministers, dozens to attempt verse, and many more to narrate a remarkable experience, provide written testimony to a civil court, participate in a controversy, or keep some sort of records-and of these everyday forms of writing there was no limit.

    Every colonial writer knew of two different modes of publication, each with its distinctive benefits and limitations. One was to entrust a manuscript to a printer who would set type and impose it on sheets of paper that were bound up into a book. The other was to make handwritten copies or have others make copies, possibly unauthorized. Among the colonists, the terms "publishing" and "book" referred to both of these technologies.Ways of Writingis about the making of texts in the seventeenth century, whether they were fashioned into printed books or circulated in handwritten form. The latter mode of publishing was remarkably common, yet it is much less understood or acknowledged than transmission in print. Indeed, certain writers, including famous ones such as John Winthrop and William Bradford, employed scribal publication almost exclusively; the Antimonian controversy of 1636-38 was carried out by this means until manuscripts relating to the struggle began to be printed in England.

    Examining printed texts as well as those that were handwritten, David D. Hall explores the practices associated with anonymity, dedications, prefaces, errata, and the like. He also surveys the meaning of authority and authenticity, demonstrating how so many texts were prepared by intermediaries, not by authors, thus contributing to the history of "social" or collaborative authorship. Finally, he considers the political contexts that affected the transmission and publication of many texts, revealing that a space for dissent and criticism was already present in the colonies by the 1640s, a space exploited mainly by scribally published texts.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0212-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Contingencies of Authorship: The Protestant Vernacular Tradition, the Book Trades, and Technologies of Production (pp. 1-28)

    Writers abounded in seventeenth-century New England. From the moment of colonization and constantly thereafter, hundreds of people set pen to paper in the course of their lives, some to write letters that others recopied, some to compose sermons as part of their life work as ministers, dozens to attempt verse, and many more to narrate a remarkable experience, provide written testimony to a civil court, participate in a controversy, or keep some sort of records—and of these everyday forms of writing there was no limit.¹ As in other early modern societies, so in New England the curve of productivity...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Not in Print yet Published: The Practice of Scribal Publication (pp. 29-80)

    John Winthrop may be the most cited of our seventeenth-century New England writers, evoked time and again because of his indispensable journal and evoked even more frequently for having declared of the new colony he was helping to found, “we shall be as a city upon a hill.” A sentence that many of us can quote was, however, a sentence very few of the colonists would have encountered, for the text in which it appears, the “Modell of Christian Charitie,” was never printed in the seventeenth century.¹ Although he shared his journal with a few friends, it became widely known...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Social Authorship and the Making of Printed Texts (pp. 81-115)

    John Cotton was shocked. When someone in the late summer of 1642 showed him a newly arrived copy of a London printed book that had his name on the title page, he learned for the first time that John Humfrey, a former member of his Boston congregation, had arranged for sermons he had preached in Boston to be printed in London. And printed, Cotton realized, using sermon notes taken as he was preaching. So Humfrey acknowledged in his preface. Cotton learned too that, although he would earn nothing from the book, Humfrey was being well rewarded. An entry in John...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Textures of Social Authorship: Case Studies (pp. 116-148)

    The complexities of book-making affected every writer in New England. To generalize about this process is to risk losing sight of specific circumstances—the motives of intermediaries, the lapses of compositors, the ambitions of booksellers, the writer’s own role, the reliance on auditors’ notes—that case histories can reveal. Thanks to the traditions of bibliographical scholarship, some of those circumstances are unusually visible in the literary careers of two first-generation ministers, John Cotton and Thomas Hooker, and the most prolific writer in New England at the beginning of the eighteenth century, Cotton Mather, co-minister with his father Increase of Second...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Between Unity and Sedition: The Practice of Dissent (pp. 149-190)

    In the midst of the Antinomian controversy, a group of men handed the Massachusetts General Court a “petition and remonstrance” complaining of the censure of John Wheelwright. Petitioning was a well-rehearsed practice in England, resorted to by people high and low who sought redress of a grievance or solicited a favor, a practice customarily verbalized as a “humble” expression of loyalty and good will toward the government. In form and substance, petitions were ostensibly apolitical.¹ Each aspect of petitioning, the practice and the formulary, reappeared among the immigrants as soon as civil government was established and, within a decade, responding...

  9. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS (pp. 191-192)
  10. NOTES (pp. 193-222)
  11. INDEX (pp. 223-233)