Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550-1640 by Tessa Watt
Cheap Print and Popular Piety, 1550-1640
John Sommerville, Tessa Watt. Cheap Print and Popular Piety, — New York: Cambridge University Press. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above.
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Cheap Print and Popular Piety, Tessa Watt. 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. 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.
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Tessa Watt has set herself a large task. She explores the impact of cheap and widely available print on an increasingly literate society still accommodating itself to Protestantism. She discusses the collection, printing and dissemination of books, pamphlets, broadside ballads, psalms, woodcuts, and texts and sentences from scripture produced tofillspaces on domestic watis denuded of their saints. Watt organizes her work into three broad sections: broadside ballads, which drew heavily on extant oral traditions; woodcuts of an edifying and sententious character; and popular reading proper in the form of chapbooks. Cheapness as a criterion in the selection of materials might suggest that popular print had an audience restricted to the lower strata of society. Watt argues that quite the contrary was the case. Cultural differences did not minor social ones.