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Potomac Books


The Other Exchange, The Other Exchange, 0803280998, 0-8032-8099-8, 978-0-8032-8099-1, 9780803280991, Denys Van Renen , Early Modern Cultural Studies, The Other Exchange, 1496200462, 1-4962-0046-2, 978-1-4962-0046-4, 9781496200464, Denys Van Renen , Early Modern Cultural Studies, The Other Exchange, 1496200470, 1-4962-0047-0, 978-1-4962-0047-1, 9781496200471, Denys Van Renen , Early Modern Cultural Studies, The Other Exchange, 1496200489, 1-4962-0048-9, 978-1-4962-0048-8, 9781496200488, Denys Va

The Other Exchange
Women, Servants, and the Urban Underclass in Early Modern English Literature
Denys Van Renen

2017. 282 pp.
1 index
$55.00 s

Prompted by commercial and imperial expansion such as the creation of the Bank of England in 1694 and the publication and circulation of Ben Jonson’s The Staple of News in 1626, rapidly changing cultural, economic, and political realities in early modern England generated a paradigmatic shift in class awareness. Denys Van Renen’s The Other Exchange demonstrates how middle-class consciousness not only emerged in opposition to the lived and perceived abuses of the aristocratic elite but also was fostered by the economic and sociocultural influence of women and lower-class urban communities.

Van Renen contends that, fascinated by the intellectual and cultural vibrancy of the urban underclass, many major authors and playwrights in the early modern era—Ben Jonson, Richard Brome, Aphra Behn, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Eliza Haywood, and Daniel Defoe—featured lower-class men and women and other marginalized groups in their work as a response to the shifting political and social terrain of the day. Van Renen illuminates this fascination with marginalized groups as a key element in the development of a middle-class mindset.

Denys Van Renen is an assistant professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.


“This subtle and perceptive book shakes many of our assumptions about early modern comic writing. Van Renen reads these texts as exchanges between the elite and the ‘formidable and fluid counterpublic’ of women and the poor, and does so convincingly.”—Matthew Steggle, professor of English at Sheffield Hallam University

 “Van Renen cogently elucidates the complex means by which the working poor provide a crucial template for the conditions of modern capitalism. His fascinating argument and nuanced readings make this book vital to any study of the early modern period.” —Rajani Sudan, professor of English at Southern Methodist University and author of The Alchemy of Empire: Abject Materials and the Technologies of Colonialism

“Remarkable in its thematic and chronological breadth, The Other Exchange productively balances close formalist analysis of its texts with a thorough critical and historical contextualization. The Other Exchange offers an extremely valuable contribution to discussion of early modern London, economic thought, vagrancy, and internal colonialism, among other issues.”—Mark Netzloff, associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and author of England’s Internal Colonies: Class, Capital, and the Literature of Early Modern English Colonialism

Publication of this volume was assisted by the Virginia Faulkner Fund, established in memory of Virginia Faulkner, editor in chief of the University of Nebraska Press.

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