Book

Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

Adam Fox

Published in print May 2002 | ISBN: 9780199251032
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191698019 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199251032.001.0001

Series: Oxford Studies in Social History

Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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This book explores the varied vernacular forms and rich oral traditions which were such a part of popular culture in early modern England. It focuses, in particular, upon dialect speech and proverbial wisdom, ‘old wives' tales’ and children's lore, historical legends and local customs, scurrilous versifying, and scandalous rumour-mongering. The book argues that while the spoken word provides the most vivid insight into the mental world of the majority in this society, it was by no means untouched by written influences. Even at the beginning of the period, centuries of reciprocal infusion between these complementary media had created a cultural repertoire which had long since ceased to be purely oral. Thereafter, the growth of reading ability together with the proliferation of texts both in manuscript and print saw the rapid acceleration and elaboration of this process. By 1700 popular traditions and modes of expression were the products of a fundamentally literate environment to a much greater extent than has yet been appreciated.

Keywords: oral traditions; popular culture; dialect speech; mental world; literate environment

Book.  512 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Oral and the Literate in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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Popular Speech in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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Proverbial Wisdom in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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Old Wives' Tales and Nursery Lore in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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The Historical Imagination in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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Local Custom, Memory, and Record in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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Ballads and Libels in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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Rumour and News in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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Conclusion in Oral and Literate Culture in England 1500–1700

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