Catalogue


Cheap print and popular piety, 1550-1640 /
Tessa Watt.
imprint
Cambridge [England] : Cambridge University Press, 1991.
description
xix, 370 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0521382556
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Cambridge [England] : Cambridge University Press, 1991.
isbn
0521382556
catalogue key
2012805
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Whitfield Prize, GBR, 1991 : Won
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1992-04:
An excellent study of the impact of printing that uses as sources "cheap print," i.e., broadsides (single pages) and chapbooks (octavo). Because print was cheap, accessible, and ubiquitous at all social levels in mid-16th to mid-17th century England, English people could sing and read in tavern and cottage. Watt's data describe a detailed and convincing picture of popular piety during the Protestant ascendency that challenges received wisdom. Arguing from literally hundreds of ballads reproduced in extenso, she convincingly demonstrates that the conservative (and iconic) faith commingled in cheap print with the new (logocentric) Protestantism, thereby casting doubt on confrontational models of change. Watt also disputes Marxist contentions that 16th-century English peasants were essentially pagans confronted by Protestantism's stern discipline. Further, she makes readers skeptical of Patrick Collinson's notion of a watershed separating oral from print culture, occurring around 1580 and marking a "second Protestant Reformation" as argued in his The Birthpangs of Protestant England (1988). Although scholars still cannot be certain what English people actually believed, much more of what they read and sang is now known. Watt's impressive scholarship was begun for her dissertation. Except for primary sources, her book lacks a bibliography. Upper-division undergraduates and above.-P. K. Cline, Earlham College
Reviews
Review Quotes
‘(Tessa Watt’s) serious respectful study … avoids both the value-judgements of the iconoclast and an unselective conceptual confusion, and allows her subject cognitive form and richness.’The Times Higher Education Supplement
"This important book by Tessa Watt looks at the impact of the Reformation and the print 'revolution' on popular religious belief in England between the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries through a detailed study of the cheapest printed wares produced in London...The end result is a rich and well-researched monograph, compellingly argued, that offers a powerful challenge to many commonly held assumptions about the nature of popular religiosity during this period." Albion
'This is a fascinating study of the impact of print and Protestanism on the popular culture of early modern England ... Tessa Watt makes an important contribution to our knowledge of how popular culture functioned in early modern society.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History
'This is a fascinating study of the impact of print and Protestanism on the popular culture of early modern England ... Tessa Watt makes an important contribution to our knowledge of how popular culture functioned in early modern society.'Journal of Ecclesiastical History
‘This is a fascinating study of the impact of print and Protestanism on the popular culture of early modern England … Tessa Watt makes an important contribution to our knowledge of how popular culture functioned in early modern society.’Journal of Ecclesiastical History
"This is an effective book, not least for its retrieval of often-forgotten sources and its complication of the distinction between godly and ungodly spheres of activity." David Cressy, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Cambridge University Press deserves our thanks for publishing a monograph that offers such a wealth of bibliographical detail." American Historical Review
"...impressive study of the popular religious literature of the 'long' Reformation, from Edward VI's reign to the eve of the civil war...." D.R. Woolf, Canadian Journal of History
"It is an important addition to the history of publishing but also offers compelling evidence for revisionist theories about cultural change in the early-modern period." Publishing Research Quarterly
"...remarkably creative, exhaustively researched, and consistently engaging study." The Catholic Historical Review
'(Tessa Watt's) serious respectful study ... avoids both the value-judgements of the iconoclast and an unselective conceptual confusion, and allows her subject cognitive form and richness.' The Times Higher Education Supplement
‘This is a pioneering book … (which) will start historians thinking in a new way about the social and intellectual life of ordinary people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.’Christopher Hill
'This is a pioneering book ... (which) will start historians thinking in a new way about the social and intellectual life of ordinary people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.'Christopher Hill
'This is a pioneering book ... (which) will start historians thinking in a new way about the social and intellectual life of ordinary people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.' Christopher Hill
'(Tessa Watt's) serious respectful study ... avoids both the value-judgements of the iconoclast and an unselective conceptual confusion, and allows her subject cognitive form and richness.'The Times Higher Education Supplement
"...an extraordinarily competent and valuable addition to the growing corpus of work on the culture of early modern England." Phyllis Mack, Journal of Modern History
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1992
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Summaries
Main Description
This book looks at popular belief through a detailed study of the cheapest printed wares in London in the century after the Reformation. It investigates the interweaving of the printed word with the existing oral and visual culture, as well as the general growth of literacy. Both Protestantism and print have been credited by recent historians with enormous, even 'revolutionary' impact upon popular culture. The protestant hostility towards traditional recreations is said to have 'inserted a cultural wedge' in village society, while its logo-centricism took the English people across a watershed 'from a culture of orality and image to one of print culture'. This study challenges these confrontational models, showing instead how traditional piety could be gradually modified to create a religious culture which was distinctively post-Reformation, if not thoroughly 'Protestant'.
Main Description
This book looks at how popular religious belief was reflected in the cheapest printed wares available in England in the century after the Reformation: the broadside ballad, the woodcut picture and the chapbook (a small pamphlet, usually of 24 pages). Dr. Watt's study is illustrated throughout by extracts from these wares, many of which are being reproduced for the first time. The production of this "cheap print" is an important chapter in book trade history, showing the increasing specialization of the ballad trade, and tracing for the first time the beginnings of the chapbook trade in the early seventeenth century. But much of this print was not only read; it was also to be sung or pasted as decoration on the wall. The ballad is placed in the context of contemporary musical culture, and the woodcut is related to the decorative arts--wall painting and painted cloth--which have been neglected by mainstream historians. At the same time, the book challenges the picture drawn by recent historians of a great gulf between Protestantism and "popular culture," showing the continuity of many aspects of traditional pre-Reformation piety--modified by Protestant doctrine--well into the seventeenth century.
Description for Bookstore
This book looks at popular belief through a detailed study of the cheapest printed wares in London in the century after the Reformation.
Description for Library
This book looks at popular belief through a detailed study of the cheapest printed wares in London in the century after the Reformation. It investigates the interweaving of the printed word with the existing oral and visual culture, as well as the general growth of literacy.
Table of Contents
Introduction
The Broadside Ballad
Small and popular music
A Godly ballad to a Godly tune
The 1642 Stock
The Broadside Picture
Idols in the frontispiece
Stories for walls
Godly tables for good householders
The Chapbook
The development of the chapbook trade
Penny books and marketplace theology
Conclusion
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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