Oral and Literate Culture in England, 1500-1700

Paperback | April 1, 2002

byAdam Fox

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This book explores the varied vernacular forms and rich oral traditions which were such a part of popular culture in early modern England. It focuses, in particular, upon dialect speech and proverbial wisdom, 'old wives' tales' and children's lore, historical legends and local customs,scurrilous versifying and scandalous rumour-mongering.Adam Fox argues that while the spoken word provides the most vivid insight into the mental world of the majority in this society, it was by no means untouched by written influences. Even at the beginning of the period, centuries of reciprocal infusion between these complementary media had created acultural repertoire which had long since ceased to be purely oral. Thereafter, the growth of reading ability together with the proliferation of texts both in manuscript and print saw the rapid acceleration and elaboration of this process. By 1700 popular traditions and modes of expression were theproduct of a fundamentally literate environment to a much greater extent than has yet been appreciated.

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This book explores the varied vernacular forms and rich oral traditions which were such a part of popular culture in early modern England. It focuses, in particular, upon dialect speech and proverbial wisdom, 'old wives' tales' and children's lore, historical legends and local customs,scurrilous versifying and scandalous rumour-mongeri...

Adam Fox is a Lecturer in Economic and Social History at the University of Edinburgh.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:512 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.17 inPublished:April 1, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199251037

ISBN - 13:9780199251032

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Oral and the Literate71. Popular Speech2. Proverbial Wisdom3. Old Wives' Tales and Nursery Lore4. The Historical Imagination5. Local Custom, Memory, and Record6. Ballads and Libels7. Rumour and NewsConclusion

Editorial Reviews

"Painstaking research in many types of sources enables Fox to tell us far more than we might have thought it possible to know about the permeation of text into popular culture and the contribution of oral tradition to publication and print."--Times Literary Supplement "This compelling study explores the interaction between speech, script and print.... Adam Fox's account of early modern English oral culture combines penetrating analysis with celebration of that culture's vigour, diversity, and inventiveness."--English Historical Review "Fox has given us a massively documented, beautifully written work of impeccable scholarship, and one (like Aubrey's work three centuries ago) enriched throughout by a deep sense of affection for this world we have largely lost."--The Guardian "This is an important book, and most scholars of early modern England would benefit greatly from reading it. It supplies a model of good and clear writing, and a treasure house of fascinating anecdote and interesting insight.... [It] represents a significant addition to scholarship, and a highly entertaining and enlightening read."--Sixteenth Century Journal