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Kathleen Ann Tonry
University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT 06269-9000)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2011 – 7/31/2011

The Common Profits of Early Print: The English Press, 1475-1535

My monograph explores the intellectual framework developed by England’s early printers. The survival and eventual economic success of the early English press, I argue, was the result of market strategies as well as nimble maneuvering within the charged cultural framework surrounding late-medieval book production. I argue that England’s early printers lay claim to a crucial intellectual discourse: the moral, ethical language of common profit. By appealing to ideas of common profit, these printers placed the press at the forefront of key cultural shifts occurring over these early Tudor decades, including those around politics and education. This study also reveals how intellectual frameworks have historically provided continuities that persist across changes in material media. Common profit, for instance, is suggestively evoked in contemporary visions of a digital commons or global literacy, both terms coined as we transition from print to digital media.