holly a. crocker any scholars of early British literature share a frustration with period labels, for we know that the ascension of Henry VII in 1485, which marks the beginning of the Tudor period, did not occasion a generative break with a benighted past. Continuance abounds even in the most tumultuous circumstances; as David Matthews and Gordon McMullan note, the cultures of religious reform offer an especially fruitful point of continuity (114). It is an expansive idea of cultural reform, in fact, that prompts James Simpson to focus his pioneering literary history on the years between 1350 and 1547. Yet, as he observes in a moment of leave-taking, "Despite the many connections between `medieval' and `early modern' culture, . . . there are, I am now convinced, very significant changes of cultural practice in the first half of the sixteenth century" (558). These changes occur on several cultural stages. They are linguistic, as John Foxe's audiences can see when he cautions readers concerning the "olde English" of the anti-fraternal satire Jack Upland (late 1400s) (335). They are also religious, as audiences of Sir John Oldcastle (1600) can see when the play invokes John Wyclif as a figure of
Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Feb 25, 2016
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