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Shakespeare and the Origins of English$
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Neil Rhodes

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245727

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245727.001.0001

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Commonplace Shakespeare

Commonplace Shakespeare

(p.149) 5 Commonplace Shakespeare
Shakespeare and the Origins of English

Neil Rhodes (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes one central aspect of the educational curriculum mentioned earlier — the commonplace method — showing first the creative uses to which Shakespeare puts this and how his own texts are transformed into commonplace material in a new vernacular tradition. Early printed books in Latin, such as the Polyanthea and the Poetarum flores, are presented as early modern literary databases. They are followed in English by the ‘wit’ books of the late 1590s, the English Parnassus (1657), and then by 18th-century anthologies such as those by Gildon, Dodd, and Enfield in which Shakespeare is prominent. In the late 18th century, Shakespeare supplies the elocution movement with soundbites collected in the new ‘readers’ and ‘speakers’. It is argued that the evolution of the commonplace-book into anthology creates resources for English studies as the mantle of classical authority is handed over to the vernacular.

Keywords:   commonplace method, Polyanthea, databases, anthologies, Parnassus, Enfield, resources, elocution

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