Sample Paragraph Transitions

            The following sentences began the first six paragraphs of a research article I published:

“Writing Fame: Epitaph Transcriptions in Renaissance Chaucer Editions and the Construction of Chaucer’s Poetic Reputation,” Journal of the Early Book Society 14 (2011), 105-130.

The complete text of the article is available on GoucherLearn if you want to see how the paragraphs following each sentence fulfill the promise of the first sentence’s transition.  Note that number 6 is a biggie, pointing to three major chunks of what the article is doing for its best readers, scholars interested in Chaucer, Chaucer’s fame, the history of English printing, and the history of Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey (more or less from center  to outside ring of my target audience).


1)  While examining two copies of Stow’s 1561 Chaucer edition  at the Garrett Library Collection of the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University, I discovered that each of them contained a manuscript transcription of the verses on Chaucer’s tomb, the marble structure Nicholas Brigham paid to erect at Westminster in 1556.


2)  The occurrence of the same kind of annotation in two different hands in two copies of the same Chaucer edition seemed astonishing and suggestive.


3)  Nor are these four the only annotations of their type in early Chaucer editions.


4) If the manuscript epitaphs have been found in an eighth of these fifty-six Renaissance Chaucers, it seems likely that we would find more now that we know what we are looking for.


5)  In brief, I believe these annotations may represent early-modern English readers’ participation in the construction of Chaucer’s poetic fame by means of behaviors that resemble the social practices of cult worship of the saints.


6)  The transmission of the tomb-verse-annotation custom to later owners of early Chaucer editions appears to have passed through an important stage in which Chaucer’s “Englishness” and his status as an originator of high English literature were consolidated, finding expression in three important print events: the front matter of Thomas Speght’s late-seventeenth-century Chaucer editions (1598, 1602, 1687), the engraving of the tomb in Elias Ashmole’s 1650-to-1651 alchemical anthology, and the reproduction of a similar tomb engraving on the frontispiece of Edmund Spenser’s Collected Works (1679).