Prologue: What’s in a Name?

Chris Stamatakis

in Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Rhetoric of Rewriting

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644407
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738821 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Prologue: What’s in a Name?

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This introductory chapter studies the idea of verbal turning in Wyatt’s writing—both as a theme within his texts, and as rescriptive traces that colour the material condition of those texts. Wyatt theorises two key principles of verbal transformation: ‘misreporting’ and ‘difference’. Even slight or innocuous acts of rescription—whether by Wyatt’s own hand or by his scribes, compilers and readers—can markedly transform meaning. This textual mutability not only frustrates biographical identifications, but also forces us to understand Wyatt’s authorship through the scriptive interventions of copyists and editors, as his verse is multifariously handled during its transmission and reception. Consideration is made of the different material textualities that characterise Wyatt’s manuscript volumes, and of the fascination with answer poetry in these collections. The chapter also examines the interplay of copying and copia (verbal abundance) and the importance of collational reading practices in the early sixteenth century.

Keywords: Wyatt; rescription; authorship; reception; hermeneutics; collation; material textuality; copia; reading practices; handling

Chapter.  14375 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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