By Aaron Kitch Associate Professor of English
Much of the historicist criticism of the past few decades has ignored the shaping influence that an emerging discourse of trade exercised on the literature of early modern England. Political Economy and the States of Literature in Early Modern England
seeks to address that oversight by demonstrating that subjects like commerce and credit are treated thoughtfully by a range of canonical authors writing between 1570 and 1620, including Spenser, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Middleton, and Jonson. Rather than interpreting these texts as evidence of the transition from feudalism to capitalism as a Marxist critic might, or invoking a catch-all abstraction like "social energy" as a New Historicist might, Kitch draws on his impressive reading in a range of subjects -- from the herring fisheries to bills of exchange -- to interpret the economic metaphors and assumptions of early modern authors in light of the local economic contexts that he carefully reconstructs. By examining a wide range of literary forms, Kitch also invites us to ask whether we can speak of the distinct economic values of particular genres like comedy or epyllion.
- Blair Hoxby, from the back cover.