This is the first comprehensive study of the Renaissance commonplace-book.
Commonplace-books were the information-organizers of Early Modern Europe, notebooks of quotations methodically arranged for easy retrieval. From their first introduction to the rudiments of Latin to the specialized studies of leisure reading of their later years, the pupils of humanist schools were trained to use commonplace-books, which formed an immensely important element of Renaissance education. The common-place book mapped and resourced Renaissance culture's moral thinking, its accepted strategies of argumentation, its rhetoric, and its deployment of knowledge. In this ground-breaking study Ann Moss investigates the commonplace-book's medieval antecedents, its methodology and use as promulgated by its humanist advocates, its varieties as exemplified in its printed manifestations, and the reasons for its gradual decline in the seventeenth century. The book covers the Latin culture of Early Modern Europe and its vernacular counterparts and continuations, particularly in France.
Printed Commonplace-Books and the Structuring of Renaissance Thought is much more than an account of humanist classroom practice: it is a major work of cultural history.
highly stimulating ... very welcome. ... Moss analyses and compares many books which have barely been mentioned by previous scholars. ... With extraordinary bibliographical thoroughness and exemplary clarity Moss has produced an indispensable survey of the theory and practice of the printed commonplace-book. ... embellished with precious scholarly insights (Peter Mack, University of Warwick, Renaissance Studies, Vol 15, No 1
she has produced a lively and learned history of Renaissance Europe's primary text-processing tool (Times Literary Supplement
This book provides us at last with a meticulously detailed account of the origins, flowering, and decline of the commonplace-book in early modern Europe. Ann Moss is always sensitive to confessional or pedogogical differences ... Ann Moss offers a generous supply of materials and possible leads which one may follow up according to one's preferences and priorities as a reader of the early modern. Whatever one's perspective ... no one who is seriously interested in early modern culture, the history of pedagogy, or the history of ideas can afford to neglect this major contribution. (Terence Cave, Rhetoria 15.3
Not just a study of commonplace books but of though (Latin locus, Greek topos, English commonplace), of testimony of quotation, this is a magisterial work. It is impossible to reduce Moss's detailed survey to generalizations. L.E. Maguire. The Yearbook of English Studies 1999.