Introducing Edward Benlowes
Among the collection of paper fragments from Little Gidding that later washed into Samuel Pepys’s library is this engraving about making engravings.1
It comes from Nova Reperta, “Inventions of Modern Times,” a series of plates designed by the Flemish artist Jan van der Straet to illustrate recent technological developments. Philips Galle engraved and printed it at the end of the sixteenth century in Antwerp, which was then a bustling hub of print culture: his workshop sat opposite that of the mapmaker Abraham Ortelius and just down the street from his friend Christophe Plantin’s famous press. Later, Galle’s daughters Justa and Elisabeth would marry the brothers Adrian and Jan Collaert, two engravers with close ties to the publisher Gerard de Jode and the painter Maerten de Vos, who provided designs for many prints both religious and secular.2 The popular imagery, emblems, and maps that these families produced made their way all over the continent and into the hands of the Ferrars at rural Little Gidding, where, in the 1630s, they would comprise the vast majority of the visual material pasted into the harmonies—as well as most of what was left unused, including this singular print.
Like both Galle’s workshop and the Concordance Room at Little Gidding, the atelier depicted in Nova Reperta shows printing to be a family affair marked by intergenerational collaboration. There is a crucial difference, though. If Little Gidding’s bookwork was the product of the “art and hands” of the Nicholas Ferrar’s “kinswomen,” this is a shop populated entirely by men.3 On the right, two male apprentices hold up a design for an older man in spectacles. Digging his burin into the softened metal, he copies the smaller image on the larger plate just as the boys copy him; there is an allegory of patrilineal reproduction at work here. In the middle of the image, men heat an engraved plate and wipe ink into its grooves, while behind them more men set the prepared surface on the press bed, cover it with a moistened sheet of paper, and pull a heavy roller over it. The rolling press draws the pooled ink up to the paper’s fibrous surface, creating the print that the man on the left inspects. As he does, he glances down to another young apprentice hunched at his feet, busy copying another design. Following the line of his gaze from printed product to the replication process pulls the viewer out of the frame to the edge of the plate and its title: SCVLPTVRA IN AES, “engraving in copper,” a label for both the technology depicted and the print itself. Thus the cycle of replication begins anew, images spawning more plates, men more boys, all laboring together in this recursive and infinitely generative space.
In early modern Europe, engravings offered a more precise and granular image than woodcuts and so became an increasingly common feature in books printed in England during the seventeenth century. The tradeoff was an increase in labor. Both movable type and woodcuts are relief technologies and can be printed on the same page, using the same press. Engraved or etched plates, though, are intaglio and printed on a separate machine, as seen in van der Straet’s image. Setting an intaglio plate within the body of a letterpress text therefore often required a potentially complicated collaboration between two different shops—one that remains opaque to bibliographers today.4 Mistakes like misalignment or a weak impression were common. Perhaps to avoid these difficulties, some publishers opted to use single-leaf plates instead. Literary booksellers like Humphrey Moseley commissioned engravers to cut and print promotional frontispieces and authorial portraits—which they could do at their own shops—then mounted these individual sheets at the front of books. Printmakers also began publishing sets of plates that readers might purchase as patterns of remixable paper slips, broadsides and portraits to paste on walls, or ready-made illustrations to embed in their books when having them bound. For instance, in the 1630s the printseller Robert Peake sold readers English-made copies of Boetius à Bolswert’s popular New Testament illustrations for readers to insert into their Bibles, perhaps also making up some books himself for resale.5 The engraver and printseller Peter Stent also became powerful in this period by integrating his plates into the rapidly-changing literary marketplace, creating and feeding the new demand among readers for images to adorn their books.6
Between the homosocial printshop imagined in Nova Reperta and the emergence of engravings as a generative force in literary production sits the vibrant, transmedia bookwork of Edward Benlowes (1603–1676). A wealthy gentleman, poet, and patron educated at Cambridge, Benlowes lived and worked at Brent Hall in Finchingfield, a small village in Essex. For most of the 1630s and 1650s, he was joined there by his secretary and close companion Jan Schoren, a Dutch printer whom he had met while traveling on the continent. Together, they set up printing atelier at home—a domestic makerspace for embellishing books, much like the Concordance Room at Little Gidding, just over fifty miles away. It contained tools for binding and stamping book covers with Benlowes’ coat of arms, probably a collection of metal plates, and—most notably—a rolling press, which Benlowes used to produce a boutique edition of Phineas Fletcher’s The Purple Island (1633), in partnership with Cambridge University Press. Brent Hall also had an extensive library of printed images, continental emblem books, baroque art, and poetry, which Benlowes freely shared with his frequent guests. As we shall see, it was Benlowes who first introduced Francis Quarles to the Jesuit emblem books that would become the source and inspiration for his bestselling Emblemes (1635). The pinnacle of Benlowes’ creative work, though—and the subject of half this chapter—was his own Theophila, or Loves Sacrifice, a large folio printed in 1652 by Roger Norton, assembled by Benlowes at home, and sold at the bookshops of Henry Seile and Humphrey Moseley in London. The project began as an eight-canto divine epic about the soul’s sacrificial journey from mortal body to heavenly spirit, figured in the ascent of the woman Theophila, “lover of God.” However, Benlowes kept adding texts—five new cantos, three Latin translations of earlier cantos by friends, recycled Latin poetry, miscellaneous fragments of Latin prose, commendatory verse, and a proliferation of preliminaries—such that, by the time the project was printed, the actual poem Theophila took up less than half the book’s bulk. To this swell of printed texts, Benlowes affixed an assortment of single-leaf plates: original etchings by Francis Barlow to illustrate the core eight cantos; Elizabethan woodcuts salvaged from his printer’s warehouse; religious pattern poems from the 1630s; and engravings recycled from several popular series of prints, including in some cases illustrations plundered from Charles Sorel’s The Extravagant Shepherd (1653). Each plate takes a slightly different place among the printed sheets, as Benlowes—making up copies himself—drew new resonances from these diverse collisions of image and text. The result is a boutique edition in which every copy is a variant. Thus like Peake’s extra-illustrated Bibles or the Little Gidding harmonies, Benlowes’ publishing project troubles contemporary critical distinctions between manuscript and print—or more specifically, between the assembled book as a bespoke object and the printed edition as a vendible commodity.
Few readers, then or now, have had a taste for Benlowes’ patchwork poetics. In a character sketch that circulated during Benlowes’ lifetime, Samuel Butler lampooned him as a “Small Poet” obsessed with “Echoes, Rebus’s, Chronograms, &c. besides Carwitchets, Clenches, and Quibbles. As for Altars and Pyramids in Poetry,” Butler continues, “he has out-done all Men that Way.”7 More, his queer tastes in verse were thought to be catching. After William Prynne puts his new hat into a case lined “with a Paper of Benlowse’s Poetry,” the accessory makes him, according to Butler’s satire, physically sick: “The first Time he wore it he felt only a singing in his Head, which within two Days turned to a Vertigo,” the rottenness of the text having infected the fabric it touched. A physician let blood in Prynne’s ear, but the illness of had already spread to his mind, causing him (the joke continues) to compose the awkward poetry in Mount-Orgueil (1641).8 A paper of Benlowes’ verse also spoils some Spanish tobacco it wraps, given, Butler tells us, the “natural Antipathy, that his Wit has to any Thing that’s Catholic.”9 To Butler, Benlowes’ affinity for pattern poems, Latin word games, and recycled ornaments turns poetry into mere paper, and waste paper at that—only good for lining boxes and wrapping goods. Nor did death do much to enhance the poet’s reputation. In a history of Oxford, written shortly after Benlowes froze to death in penury there, his friend Anthony Wood censured him as having been a “very imprudent man in matters of worldly concern, and ignorant as to the value or want of money.” Although he had inherited an estate of nearly a thousand pounds per year, Benlowes (he continued) did “make a shift, tho never married, to squander it mostly away on Poets, Flatterers, (which he loved) in buying of Curiosities (which some call’d Baubles) on Musitians, Buffoons, &c.”10 Wood’s choice of verb phrase speaks volumes: to “make a shift” is to switch one thing for another, in this case marriage (“though never married”) for the companionship of the flattering male poets “which he loved,” and in at least one Restoration comedy the phrase suggests a scrambling of sexual desire.11 By turning away from the role of husband and toward that of patron, Benlowes reproduced bad verse instead of heirs, his queer devotions leading him directly to frozen poverty.
In the eighteenth century, Butler’s sketch and Wood’s biography turned to caricature in the satires of Alexander Pope, where Benlowes stands in for the quintessentially tasteless fool, a patron willing to throw money at any poets who fawn over him, regardless of their talents. In the Chauncy manuscript of the Prologue to the Satires, two variants show Pope working through an analogy between Benlowes’ patronage of the the poet Francis Quarles and George Bubb Dodington’s and Lord Gage’s support for Lewis Theobald, Pope’s rival editor of Shakespeare:
Fools find fit patrons still in every age,
Quarles had his Benlowes, Tibbald has his Gage.
How pleased I see some patron to each scrub,
Quarles had his Benlowes, Tibbald has his Bubb.
A note in the margin of the manuscript explains that Benlowes had been “a gentleman of Oxfordshire in the time of Charles I, who patronized all the bad poets of that reign,” and perhaps the very need for such an annotation suggests the reference was by then too obscure for satire; neither couplet made it into the printed edition.12 Benlowes does appear in Pope’s last version of the Dunciad, though, where he is squeezed between John Taylor and Thomas Shadwell in a list of the seventeenth-century’s minor poets and named as one “propitious still to blockheads.” It is a dull jab by Pope’s standards, made a bit sharper in William Warburton’s 1751 edition, which includes a version of the earlier annotation as a disparaging footnote:
Ver. 21. Benlowes.] A country gentleman famous for his own bad Poetry, and for patronizing bad Poets, as may be seen from many Dedications of Quarles, and others to him. Some of them anagram’d his name, Benlowes into Benevolus: to verify which, he spend his whole estate upon them.13
If Warburton’s note had injured Benlowes’ reputation, the editor Robert Thyer heaped insult on top when, a few years later in his 1759 print edition of Samuel Butler’s character sketch of Benlowes as a “Small Poet,” he footnotes his name with a shrug: “As I never heard of any Poet of this Name, I take it for granted, that this is a cant Word for some one that [Butler] did not chuse to name.”14 A century after it originally circulated in manuscript, Butler’s sketch of Benlowes had finally made it into print; but by then, no one could remember the man it ridiculed.
And with that, Benlowes all but disappears from the record of literary history. Only a small handful of critics have engaged his work seriously in the centuries since. There is a brief description of his poetry followed by an edition of Theophila in George Saintsbury’s Minor Poets of the Caroline Period (1905), an eclectic anthology that also includes in this volume work by William Chamberlayne, Patrick Hannay, and Katherine Philips. “The fate of Benlowes has been one of the hardest in the history of English poetry,” writes Saintsbury, a truth that his collection would sadly not correct; of the minor poets in the volume, only Katherine Philips is read today.15 There is also an unpublished dissertation of 1982 in which Elizabeth Jane Bellamy perceptively reads Theophila as “a mystical narrative gone awry” as the poet-narrator fails to complete his over-ambitious vision.16 Sandwiched between Saintsbury and Bellamy are two book-length treatments of Benlowes’ work. The first is by the textual scholar and philologist Harold Jenkins, known today for his 1982 edition of Hamlet and as joint general editor of the Arden Shakespeare. Jenkins wrote about Benlowes for his DLitt thesis at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, which he published in 1952 as Edward Benlowes: Biography of a Minor Poet. That such a curious poet would pique Jenkins’ curiosity early in his career is perhaps not surprising, given his bibliographic interests, and the resulting biography is a thoroughly researched and singularly sensitive treatment of Benlowes’ life and work. The second is Poetry and Numbers: On the Structural Use of Symbolic Numbers (1966), a short treatise on numerology in seventeenth-century poetry by the Swedish critic Gunnar Qvarnström. Taking Benlowes as “an extreme example of that kind of taste which might be called typographical baroque,” Qvarnström reads Theophila as “a paradoxical mixture of rigid formal systematization and an unsystematic distribution of poetic stuff” recycled from other sources.17 For him, as for me, it is precisely the hybridity of Benlowes’ project that makes it worth investigating. He writes:
From our point of view the exaggerations of Theophila, its hyperbolic character, make the poem very useful as a pedagogical example. Its embodiment of a lost and forgotten poetical theory is carried to such an extreme that we can aptly call it abnormal. And I think that in the history of literature, as in the history of psychology and psychiatry, the normal can be elucidated by means of the abnormal. That is why Theophila constitutes excellent material for my present demonstration.18
While Jenkins and Qvarnström elucidate Benlowes’ oddness with generous sympathy, others—perhaps stymied by how to fit him into a calcified canon—did not follow their lead, and his name remains as unknown to readers today as it was to Thyer 1759.
When Benlowes’ authorial portrait from Theophila was copied in the eighteenth century, the engraver stripped away the Apollonian wreath, putti, and strapwork encrusting his image, leaving only his bust against a darkened background.
By transforming the thickly embellished poet into a lone author, this anonymous engraver unwittingly epitomized the move that critics have so often made when attempting to render writers legible as part of a literary period, its genres and traditions. Of course, this move is ineffectual with a book artist like Benlowes, for whom visual design and material structure crucially intertwined with the craftwork of language. Tugging together the threads of sympathy for his work found in neglected twentieth-century critical traditions and tacking to them fresh evidence from digital datasets, bibliographic research, and social network analysis, the present chapter knits a new image of this Royalist patron and publisher—one that restores to him his ornamental framework and takes seriously its role in his fiercely materialist poetics. The point of doing so is not to improve Benlowes’ reputation as a poet so much as shift the grounds upon which we read his or any other literary production in this intensely intermedia period.19 Pivoting the critical gaze away from naked texts and toward intimate entanglements with media technologies—and attending to our own digital engagements as we do—I find Benlowes not alone on the page but in his domestic printing atelier at Brent Hall, surrounded by unbound books, copperplates, his rolling press, gold sheets for gilding covers, and his companion Jan Schoren. There, from the margins of the London marketplace for literature, he cultivated a homosocial network of poets, printers, engravers, and composers to collaborate on bespoke, quasi-scribal assemblages of printed text, images, even music. He leaves florid Latin inscriptions on the flyleaves of books that he donates to St. John’s College Library in Cambridge, presses elaborate symbols of patronage onto the blank pages of Phineas Fletcher’s work, produces the seventeenth-century’s most popular book of emblems with Francis Quarles, and, as his world crashes into civil war, tucks fragments of the old prints into the gathered folds of his masterpiece Theophila (1652). Emerging from these manifold collaborations is, as we shall see, a new kind of scribal publishing with plates—a queer response to Little Gidding’s proto-feminist “new kind printing” with scissors and paste.
Restoring to Benlowes his queer affections might begin by looking past the later satirical caricatures and returning to his own self-styling. Authorial presentation was something Benlowes put great energy and care into as both a poet and a patron, and he left us several self-portraits that he designed and possibly even printed himself. One of the most illustrative—and a fitting counterpoint to his critics—is the first plate of Theophila (1652), engraved by Francis Barlow.
The focal point of the engraving is the titular heroine of this divine epic, Theophila. Opposite her is an idealized, youthful Benlowes (who would have been 49 at the time). His foot rests on the world, a signal of his indifference to earthly matters, and his back is to the reader—a pose that he often struck in portraits, preferring to style himself as a humble servant to poesy rather than its master. For instance, in an oil painting that he gave to St. John’s College, his alma mater, his face turns away from the viewer while his finger points emphatically at an open Bible, redirecting the reader’s attention away from him and toward the book.
The verse accompanying the engraving calls this curly-haired figure the “Author,” and he holds a pen as if writing; yet he gazes at his female subject in a way that suggests he is sketching her portrait, attempting to “survay, / How He may THEOPHIL portray.” Elsewhere in the preface Benlowes styles himself a “Composer,” as does Thomas Phillipot in his commendatory verse “To the Renowned COMPOSER” (sig. C3v), characterizing Benlowes’ creative labors as akin to arranging music or setting type for a printed book. In these synaesthetic shifts, Benlowes frames his own materialist poetics as a process of mediating the divine—of adorning and dressing it in ornate visual and verbal trappings suitable to such a transcendent subject.
If the bottom of half of the engraving shows Benlowes’ process of composition, the top half figures its product: the book Theophila, flying above the two figures and clutched in the talons of an eagle. The eagle is the symbol of John the Evangelist, often portrayed as a curly-haired youth in the medieval and early modern periods, as we saw in the François van den Hoeye print used in the King’s Harmony at Little Gidding, and the pairing of an effeminate young man writing near such a bird would likely have spurred in readers’ minds a parallel between the author and this most mystical of the evangelists.
An eagle carrying something in its talons may also have suggested to readers the myth of Ganymede, the beautiful Greek shepherd boy kidnapped by Zeus. Smitten, Zeus disguised himself as an eagle to steal Ganymede away to Olympus, where he raped him and forced him into servitude. The story was “the best known myth of homoerotic desire in early modern England,” as Bruce Smith has pointed out, especially desire between masters and their male servants.20 It was copied in emblem books from Alciati’s Emblemata to Henry Peacham’s Minerva Brittania, where, as Lorrayne Baird-Lange has argued, it may have subtly commented on the perceived sexual corruptions of the Stuart court.21
The shared eagle imagery further linked John the Evangelist to male sexuality. This coupling finds its most notorious early modern expression in the posthumous charges against Christopher Marlowe, said to have claimed Christ and John were “bedfellows” and lovers; but it has deeper roots stretching back to the thirteenth-century Christian treatise on Ovid Ovide moralise, where Ganymede is said to prefigure John.22 By the time Benlowes was writing, this emblematic triangulation of eagles, evangelists, and sodomy had begun to fuel the intense homoerotics of divine metaphysical verse, as Richard Rambuss has shown, with poets like Thomas Traherne describing themselves as Christ’s Ganymede, snatched away from earth and carried to heaven for spiritual consummation.23 Benlowes plays on these themes in this image but substitutes the beautiful boy Ganymede for his beautiful book Theophila, an erotically-charged object that was in fact lovingly hand-assembled by Benlowes at home with his servant Schoren and engravers like Barlow. According to this plate, his creation is so exquisite that, through the power of Christ’s desire, it can transcend the messy scene of its own writing and ascend rapturously on the wings of an eagle. Thus Benlowes’ queer fetish for the material book, much derided by his later critics, is here the very reason his work is able to touch heaven.
The presence of both the writing process and its product together in this single engraving renders this image preposterous: that is, it is in the absurd position of simultaneously depicting moments both before the book’s printing (pre-), when Benlowes was still a young man in the midst of writing the text, and after the book has been printed and assembled (-post). As Margreta de Grazia has shown, such preposterous historiography was a dynamic feature of early modern texts and what Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood have further dubbed the period’s many “anachronic artifacts,” material representations that refuse to adhere to strict chronologies.24 That Benlowes’ book appears here as one such artifact, in a print stitched into the very book being figured, places the reader in a complex relation to the text’s representational strategies. For if the book is the ornately entombed and ascendent remains of Theophila’s “love’s sacrifice,” as the top of this figure suggests, then actually reading the long poem is beside the point; just owning Theophila the book as kind of embellished urn of Theophila’s remains is enough, and indeed the high rate of the book’s survival in good condition and original bindings suggests that many readers treated the book as just that, a jeweled object to trim their shelves. But if that is the case, then what is the point of the poem? Benlowes clearly wishes Theophila’s text to serve as an exemplar to readers. “Behold here in an Original is presented an Example of Life, with Force of Precepts,” he writes, albeit somewhat conventionally, in the preface; “happy who coppy [sic] them out in their Actions!” (sig. [xx]). Nor would it be enough for the reader to take in this wisdom “as parched Earth does Rain,” letting it simply wash over her; rather, she must “turn it into nourishment by a spiritual Digestion, being made like It Divine” (sig. [xx]). In short, she must actually read and mentally grapple with the text—a process in tension with the idea of the book as a relic, seen but not necessarily read. By encouraging the reader to both fetishize the printed object and digest its literary contents, Benlowes queers devotional reading practices: that is, he deflects his reader’s desire for Christ, excited by reading the verse, onto his embellished book and its bespoke armature.25 “The Paper burns me not, yet I am all inflam’d,” he writes in Canto 1, “For, as I read, such inward Splendor glowes; Such Life-renewing Vigour flowes, / That All, what’s known of thy most righteous WILL, It showes” (1.XCI–XCII, sig. D6v–E1r). Thus sensitive contact with the beautiful, preposterous object—touching its pressed pages, pausing to read the text, constellating connections between typography, text, and found prints—physically marshals the reader’s zealous devotion and “fancy,” as he calls it, for the divine.
1. Ferrar Print 325.
2. Jan van der Stock, Printing Images in Antwerp: The Introduction of Printmaking in a City Fifteenth Century to 1585, trans. Beverley Jackson (Rotterdam: Sound & Vision Interactive Rotterdam, 1998), 134–6.
3. J. E. B. Mayor, Nicholas Ferrar, Two Lives (Cambridge: Palgrave Macmillan 1855), 137.
4. Roger Gaskell, “Printing House and Engraving Shop: A Mysterious Collaboration,” The Book Collector 53 (2004): 213–251.
5. George Henderson, “Bible Illustration in the Age of Laud,” The Library 8.2 (1982), 180–183; Peter Stallybrass, “Books and Scrolls: Navigating the Bible,” in Books and Readers in Early Modern England: Material Studies, eds. Jennifer Anderson and Elizabeth Sauer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 51ff; Graham Parry, Glory, Laud and Honour: The Arts of the Anglican Counter-Reformation (Rochester: Boydell, 2006), 129–130.
6. Alexander Globe, Peter Stent, London Printseller (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1985); on the growth of consumer demand, see David Baker, On Demand: Writing for the Market in Early Modern England (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).
7. Samuel Butler, Characters and Passages from Note-books, ed. A. R. Waller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908), 53.
9. Ibid., 54.
10. Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, Vol. 2 (London, 1692), 876.
11. J. Douglas Canfield, Tricksters & Estates: On the Ideology of Restoration Comedy (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press), 158.
12. Alexander Pope, The Works of Alexander Pope, Vol. 3, ed. Whitwell Elwin and William John Courthope (London, 1881), 260n6.
13. Alexander Pope, The Works of Alexander Pope, Vol 5, ed. William Warburton (London, 1751), 117.
14. Samuel Butler, The Genuine Remains in Verse and Prose of Mr. Samuel Butler, Author of Hudibras, Vol. II, ed. Robert Thyer (London, 1759), 118.
15. George Saintsbury, ‘ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), 307.
16. Elizabeth Jane Bellamy, “Edward Benlowes’ Theophila’s Love-Sacrifice: The Paradox of the Mystical Poet,” PhD diss., Duke University, 1982.
17. Gunnar Qvarnström, Poetry and Numbers: On the Structural Use of Symbolic Numbers (Lund, 1966), 76.
18. Qvarnström, Poetry and Numbers, 57.
19. In using the term “intermedia,” or occasionally “transmedia,” to describe Benlowes’ work, I signal my critical affiliation with a host of recent scholarship at the intersection of early material culture and media studies; for two especially trenchant collections of essays, see The Intermedia Restoration, a special issue of Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1770, edited by Scott Trudell (42.2, Fall 2018), and Becoming Media, a special issue of postmedieval, edited by Jen Boyle and Martin Foys (3.1, 2012).
20. Bruce Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s England: A Cultural Poetics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994 ), 192; see also Alan Stewart, Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), xvi–xix; James M. Saslow, Ganymede in the Renaissance: Homosexuality in Art and Society (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986).
21. Lorrayne Y. Baird-Lange, “Victim Criminalized: Iconographic Traditions and Peacham’s Ganymede,” Traditions and Innovations: Essays on British Literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ed. David G. Allen and Robert A. White (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1990), 231–250.
22. Jonathan Goldberg, “Sodomy and Society: The Case of Christopher Marlowe,” Staging the Renaissance, eds. David Scott Kastan and Peter Stallybrass (New York: Routledge, 1991), 78.
23. Richard Rambuss, Closet Devotions (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), 56ff.
24. Margreta de Grazia, “Anachronism,” Cultural Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in Literary History, ed. James Simpson and Brian Cummings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), Alexander Nagel and Christoper S. Wood, Anachronic Renaissance (New York: Zone Books, 2010), 13–14. On preposterous historiography, see Mieke Bal, Loving Yusuf: Conceptual Travels from Past to Present (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 152. Patricia Parker connects the preposterous to early modern performance in “Preposterous Events,” Shakespeare Quarterly 43.2 (Summer 1992): 186–213, while Masten connects it to Jeffrey Goldberg’s notion of “sodometries” in Queer Philologies: Sex, Language, and Affect in Shakespeare’s Time (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), 180—both connections rich with significance for Barlow’s etching.
25. In knitting together of embodied acts of reading and the historical construction of desire, especially queer desire, this analysis is indebted to several influential books and collections, including Madhavi Menon, Wanton Words: Rhetoric and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), esp. pp. 31–2; James M. Bromley and Will Stockton, eds., Sex before Sex: Figuring the Act in Early Modern England (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013); Carla Freccero, Queer/Early/Modern (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006); and Ben Saunders, Desiring Donne: Poetry, Sexuality, Interpretation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006). See also the special issue of Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, “Desiring History and Historicizing Desire,” eds. Ari Friedlander, Melissa Sanchez, and Will Stockton, 16.2 (Spring 2016), and Valerie Traub, “The New Unhistoricism in Queer Studies,” Thinking Sex with the Early Moderns (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), for recent critical reflections on historicizing queer desire and queering historicism.