From manuscript to printing: Transformations of genres in the history of English

Claudia Claridge

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of English

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199922765
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 From manuscript to printing: Transformations of genres in the history of English

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics


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Within about the last two decades, the role in the history of the English language of genres together text types, resisters, and styles has generated strong interest. The article discusses one aspect of this, namely genres that were radically transformed or came into being through the influence of printing in Early Modern England. Printing made possible both new publication types, accommodating new or changed genres, and a widening, diversified readership, which may influence the choice of text type features. In this process, existing or incipient genres are reused and adapted by authors, publishers, and printers. Paratexts in books and pamphlets are shown in one case study to diversify into dedications, addresses and prefaces, taking up and remixing features from medieval prologues and from letter-writing. A second case study deals with newspaper texts, which borrow from and gradually alter characteristics of chronicles and letters.

Keywords: genres; chronicles; Early Modern English; letters; news; paratexts; printing; evidence; linguistics

Article.  4119 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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