Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Print, Powder, Compass: Technological Inter-animation and Early Modern Literature
pdf
Available after 6 July, 2019

This project foregrounds the pressures that three transformative technologies in the long sixteenth century—the printing press, gunpowder, and the magnetic compass—placed on long-held literary practices, as well as on cultural and social structures. Taking a circulatory-ecological approach to the study of literature and technology, it suggests new ways of reading (and of needing to read) the period’s written corpus. Specifically, the project disinters the “clash” (and concomitant “carnivalism”) between humanist drives and print culture (especially vis-à-vis print error); places the rise of gunpowder warfare beside the equivalent rise in literary romances and chivalric tournaments, thus forcing a re-evaluation of the impetuses for the latter; and illustrates fraught attempts by humanists to hold on to classicist traditions of expression (often to unintentionally humorous ends) in the face of seismic changes in navigation and the discovery of new worlds. Not only how literature responded to the radical technological changes of the period is thereby advanced, but also how literature was sometimes forced, through unanticipated destabilizations, to reimagine what it was, or could be—or even couldn’t be any longer.