Reading Dark Materials: Orality, Materiality, and the After-age of Print

By Lauren Shohet.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Part of a project on ways that contemporary adaptations of Renaissance sources thematize modes of textuality, this paper examines figures of books and reading in Philip Pullman’s trilogy “His Dark Materials.” I argue that these novels not only offer dynamic, nuanced engagements of Milton’s Paradise Lost and other early-modern canonical texts, but also offer figures for different protocols of reading that can help us reflect upon our position at the cusp of residual, dominant, and emergent forms (allegory, the novel) and media (oral, print, and post-print). This paper proposes that the three instruments yielding the American titles of the volumes (the golden compass, the subtle knife, and the amber spyglass) refract Spenserian practice in ways that adapt Renaissance traditions for new uses, and that illuminate ways that material media and textual forms collaborate to reanimate and transform the textual materials they sponsor and inhabit.

Keywords: Literary Analysis, Renaissance Allegory, Contemporary British Fiction, Genre, Adaptation, Novel, Milton, John, Pullman, Philip

International Journal of the Book, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp.129-134. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 713.593KB).

Dr. Lauren Shohet

Professor of English, English Department, Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA

Professor of English at Villanova University (USA). Ph.D. Brown University (USA); recipient of fellowships from National Endowment for the Humanities, Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst, Mellon Foundation, Folger Library, Huntington Library. Author of Reading Masques: The English Masque and Public Culture in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2010) and essays on Milton, Shakespeare, Jonson, Pullman, genre, adaptation, and other topics in Shakespeare Studies, Milton Studies, Studies in English Literature, Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies, Oxford Companion to the Elegy, and many anthologies.


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