Recent Studies in Commonplace Books


  • ELR bibliographic essays are intended to contribute a topical review of research with a reasonably complete bibliography. Scholarship is organized by authors or titles of anonymous works or special topics. Items included represent combined entries listed in the annual bibliographies published by PMLA, YWES, and MHRA from 1971 through, in the present instance, 2011. The format used here is a modified version of that used in Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama, ed. Terence P. Logan and Denzel S. Smith, 4 vols. (Univ. of Nebraska, 1973–1978). The ELR series is edited by Elizabeth H. Hageman, Professor of English-Emerita, University of New Hampshire


This essay surveys scholarship in English on early modern commonplace books from 1971 through 2011. In their purest form, commonplace books were written in Latin by schoolboys who organized sententiae under topic headings, but educated amateurs of both genders used and adapted the form well into the seventeenth century. Recent research in this field demonstrates that commonplace book compilation intersects with a number of areas, such as education, reading, memory, religion, politics, science, and music. Scholarship on individual manuscript and printed commonplace books enriches our understanding of the multiple ways in which readers interacted with texts and with the world around them. (V.E.B.)