Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Ed Gieskes


This dissertation explores the act of reading during the early modern period. Examining both the text block and the margins of printed pages, this project contends that early modern reading practices create a hybrid book/body circuit. The texts selected for this project provide a depiction of not only how the act of reading functioned during the early modern period but also reveal the manner in which reading was presented to audiences and readers on the stage and printed page. This project resists a linear, chronological narrative of the act of reading and instead makes evident different versions of reading and the kind of hybridity that reading involves. The chapters in my dissertation move from exploring how the act of reading was presented on the stage to how the resulting hybrid book/body functioned once formed; the project then examines how a play functions on the printed page and acts as a prescriptive reading manual in order to participate in the formation of early modern readers’ identities. I conclude by studying a specific commonplace book owner, Edward Pudsey, to show not only how an early modern reader used playtexts to construct a notion of the self but also how by considering commonplace books as the material manifestation of the hybrid book/body the text of the commonplace book should be considered a single authored work and not merely a knitting together of a variety of other authors’ works.