Taylor Cowdery, "Matter and Making in Early English Poetry: Literary Production from Chaucer to Sidney" (Cambridge UP, 2023)


Is the raw material of literature the paper, ink, vellum, paphyrus, and increasingly electronic data that it is inscribed on? Or is the stuff of literature the storehouse of tropes, techniques, and plots that authors draw from? And what kind of labor is the process of transforming that matter into literature? Earlier this year, Taylor Cowdery published an academic study on just this subject. The title of Taylor’s book is Matter and Making in Early English Poetry: Literary Production from Chaucer to Sidney (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Through case studies of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Gower’s Confessio Amantis, Thomas Hoccleve’s Series, and Thomas Wyatt’s poetry, Taylor captures a wide discourse around creativity and originality.

Taylor is Associate Professor of English and Robert M. Lumiansky Fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Taylor also serves as the Director of the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and Taylor’s writing has been published in ELH, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, and The Legacy of Boethius in Medieval England.

John Yargo is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Boston College. He earned a PhD in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, specializing in the environmental humanities and early modern culture. In 2023, his dissertation won the J. Leeds Barroll Prize, given by the Shakespeare Association of America. His peer-reviewed articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Culture Studies, Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, and Shakespeare Studies.

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John Yargo

John Yargo is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at Boston College. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His specializations are early modern literature, the environmental humanities, and critical race studies. His dissertation explores early modern representations of environmental catastrophe, including William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, and John Milton's Paradise Lost. He has published in Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Shakespeare Studies.

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