Dr Anne Secord (History and Philosophy of Science, Darwin Correspondence Project, University of Cambridge)
Containing the World: Boxes, Books, and Botany in late C18th and C19th England
Dr Lucy Razzall (English, Centre for Material Texts, University of Cambridge)
Containing the Word: Books and Boxes in Early Modern England
Dr Lucy Razzall. Containing the Word: Books and Boxes in Early Modern England.
In this paper I want to think about the material and imaginative connections between books and boxes in early modern England. Books were often kept in boxes in this period, but there are further material connections between them – while boxes might be lined with paper, books might well be bound by the same craftsmen who make leather-covered boxes. Early modern material culture furnishes us with plenty of (often playful) objects which draw on the evocative overlap between books and boxes, such as lockets, hand warmers, and instruments, which look like books but which function as vessels for things other than words. Early modern authors were certainly alert to the visual and imaginative similarities between books and boxes, often playing on them in their choice of metaphors for their own writing. Focussing on a late Elizabethan epigram collection, this paper explores the playful capacity of print to manipulate the identity of the material text, and to remind us of the material and imaginative connections between poems, books, and other boxes of tricks.