Om Thomas Dekker and the Culture of Pamphle
Thomas Dekker (c.15721632) was a prolific playwright and pamphleteer chiefly remembered for his vivid and witty portrayals of everyday London life. This book uses Dekkers prose pamphlets (published between 1613 and 1628) as a way in to a crucial and relatively neglected period of the history of pamphleteering. Under James I, after the aggressive Elizabethan exploitation of the new media, pamphleteers carved out a discursive space in which claims about truth and authority could be deconstructed. Avoiding the dangerous polemic employed by the Marprelate pamphleteers, they utilised playful, deliberately ambiguous language that drew readers attention to their own literary devices and games. Dekker shows pamphlets to be unstable and roguish, and the nakedly commercial imperatives of the book trade to be central to the world of Jacobean cheap print, as he introduces us to a world in which overlapping and competing discourses jostled for position in Londons streets, markets and pulpits. Contributing to the history of print and to the history of Jacobean London, this book also provides an appraisal of the often misunderstood prose works of an author who deserves more attention, especially from historians, than he has so far received. Critics are slowly becoming aware that Dekker was not the straightforward, simple hack writer of so many accounts; his works are complex and richly reward study in their own right as well as in the context of his more famous predecessors and contemporaries. As such this book will further contribute to a post-revisionist historiography of political consciousness and print cultures under the early Stuarts, as well as illuminate the career of a neglected writer.