By Marjorie Swann
A craze for amassing swept England throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Aristocrats and middling-sort males alike filled their houses choked with a bewildering number of actual gadgets: old cash, clinical tools, minerals, mummified corpses, zoological specimens, crops, ethnographic items from Asia and the Americas, statues, graphics. Why have been those extraordinary jumbles of artifacts so popular?In Curiosities and Texts, Marjorie Swann demonstrates that collections of actual gadgets have been relevant to early glossy English literature and tradition. Swann examines the recognized choice of rarities assembled by way of the Tradescant kin; the advance of English traditional historical past; narrative catalogs of English panorama good points that started to appear within the Tudor and Stuart sessions; the writings of Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick; and the root of the British Museum.Through this wide-ranging sequence of case stories, Swann addresses very important questions: How used to be the gathering, which was once understood as a sort of cultural capital, appropriated in early smooth England to build new social selves and modes of subjectivity? and the way did literary texts—both as fabric items and as cars of representation—participate within the means of negotiating the cultural value of creditors and accumulating? Crafting her specified argument with a stability of aspect and perception, Swann sheds new gentle on fabric culture's courting to literature, social authority, and private identification.
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Extra info for Curiosities and Texts: The Culture of Collecting in Early Modern England
Throughout early modern Europe, admission to an individual's collection was normally a privilege extended only to those judged to have adequate social or professional credentials; collectors and visitors used each other to establish personal authority, as a collector's reputation was enhanced by the importance of his visitors, and the would-be cosmopolite increased his status by gaining access to highly regarded displays of objects. The Tradescants, by contrast, commodified the experience of viewing their collection; anyone could see the Tradescants' rarities upon payment of an entrance fee.
Collected by E[lias]. l~~ By creating catalogues, Ashmole thus gained admission to and asserted his authority over elite cultural circles. The relationship between collecting, cataloguing, and personal prestige in Ashmole's quest for enhanced status becomes most evident in his attempt to gain ownership of the Tradescant collection. In his prefatory letter "To the Ingenious Reader," Tradescant explains the circumstances under which the catalogue Musaeum Tradescantianurn was compiled.
Following the title page appear two Latin anagrams on "Joannes Tradescantus," and then two English anagrams by Walter Stonehouse; the latter verses are paired with engraved portraits of the elder Tradescant and his son by Wenceslaus Hollar. This prefatory matter immediately situates the catalogue within a royalist context: Stonehouse was an Anglican clergyman ejected from his living in Yorkshire and imprisoned in 1648, and Hollar had been forced to leave England for some time because he was a royalist sympathizer.
Curiosities and Texts: The Culture of Collecting in Early Modern England by Marjorie Swann