Through its exploration of the intersections between the culture of the wool broadcloth industry and the literature of the early modern period, this study contributes to the expanding field of material studies in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. The author argues that it is impossible to comprehend the development of emerging English nationalism during that time period, without considering the culture of the cloth industry. She shows that, reaching far beyond its status as a commodity of production and exchange, that industry was also a locus for organizing sentiments of national solidarity across social and economic divisions. Hentschell looks to textual productions-both imaginative and non-fiction works that often treat the cloth industry with mythic importance-to help explain how cloth came to be a catalyst for nationalism. Each chapter ties a particular mode, such as pastoral, prose romance, travel propaganda, satire, and drama, with a specific issue of the cloth industry, demonstrating the distinct work different literary genres contributed to what the author terms the 'culture of cloth'.
Contents: Introduction: ancient, famous and decayed: the culture of cloth in early modern England; Part 1 Resistance in the Flock: Labor Rebellion in Pastoral Poetry and Prose Romance: Pasture and pastoral: sheep, anti-enclosure literature, and Sidney's seditious peasants; Clothworkers and social protest: the case of Thomas Deloney. Part 2 The Circulation of Subjectivity in the Cloth Trade: 'Vente for our English clothes': promoting early New World expansion; Treasonous textiles: foreign cloth and the construction of Englishness. Part 3 Staging the Cloth Crisis: The fleecing of England, or the drama of corrupt drapers: Thomas Middleton's Michaelmas Term; Politics on parade: the Cockayne project and Anthony Munday's civic pageants for the Drapers; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Roze Hentschell is Associate Professor of English at Colorado State University, USA.
Reviews: ‘… an intelligent and interesting book.’ Parergon
'… for anyone with an interest in early modern national identity or the ways in which cloth and clothing may bear and reproduce social meaning, this is important reading.' Renaissance Studies
'The Culture of Cloth is thoroughly researched and ably demonstrates its central premise: the wool broadcloth industry was central to early modern England's self-definition as a nation. It is a significant strength that this book treats not only a number of areas of the cloth trade but also the various crises that plagued them... an important study well worth reading by those engaged in early modern English studies or in the study of nationalism in general.' Sixteenth Century Journal
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