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By Marjorie Swann

A craze for amassing swept England in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries. Aristocrats and middling-sort males alike filled their houses choked with a bewildering number of actual gadgets: old cash, medical tools, minerals, mummified corpses, zoological specimens, vegetation, ethnographic items from Asia and the Americas, statues, pictures. Why have been those extraordinary jumbles of artifacts so popular?In Curiosities and Texts, Marjorie Swann demonstrates that collections of actual gadgets have been significant to early smooth English literature and tradition. Swann examines the well-known choice of rarities assembled via the Tradescant kinfolk; the improvement of English normal heritage; narrative catalogs of English panorama beneficial properties that began appearing within the Tudor and Stuart classes; the writings of Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick; and the root of the British Museum.Through this wide-ranging sequence of case reports, Swann addresses vital questions: How was once the gathering, which used to be understood as a sort of cultural capital, appropriated in early glossy England to build new social selves and modes of subjectivity? and the way did literary texts—both as fabric items and as autos of representation—participate within the technique of negotiating the cultural importance of creditors and accumulating? Crafting her certain argument with a stability of aspect and perception, Swann sheds new gentle on fabric culture's dating to literature, social authority, and private id.

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Just as the ruling elites of Europe incorporated humanist values into their self-definitions and allied the virtues of lineage with the virtues of a humanist education, so elite collectors during the early modern period sought to exhibit their knowledge of antiquity through the objects they amassed and displayed. As art historian Ronald Lightbown observes, "The history of royal and princely collecting in the sixteenth century is in many ways the history of how the tastes of lettered humanists .

In 1634 Tradescant further textualized his collection of plants by publishing a fifteen-page pamphlet entitled Plantarum in Horto Iohannem [sic] Tradescanti nascientium Catalogus. "l19 The Musaeum Tradescantianum, first published in 1656, was a much more elaborate textual representation of the Tradescants' collection and the identities they had created in relationship to it. Facing the specious Tradescant coat of arms, the title page reads, "Musaeum Tradescantianum: or, A Collection of Rarities.

Ashmole's avid pursuit of astrology and alchemy similarly embodied his contradictory blend of conservatism and desire for enhanced status. O n the one hand, his interest in horoscopes and magic was entirely consistent with his support for the Stuart monarchy, as "Ashmole's view of the world and of society. . "lZ8Yet Ashmole also used astrology and magic as tools with which he could realize his dreams of social mobility. "129Ashmole hunted for a suitablywealthy second wife to fulfill this prediction and found the woman of his horoscopes in Lady Manwaring, thrice widowed and nearly twenty years his senior.

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