The cultural dynamics of reception are best understood as a reiterative process of reshaping and reframing. Reception as an object of critical study embraces first the history of how texts were read, disseminated, and consumed across media, languages, and geographical regions. But if this is the first port of call, such analysis quickly draws in questions about the relationship between reception and production, audience and agency, about contemporary and posthumous reputation. This special issue investigates the ways in which the act of reception is a reiterative process on a continuous spectrum with cultural production. Receivers — of texts, events, reputations — are mediators, creatively reconstituting that which they receive according to their own agendas and contemporary imperatives. The articles in this collection embrace international, comparative, and new material contexts for early modern reception studies as they address poetry, romance, letters, history, hagiography, autobiography, and literary reviews. The transnational perspectives that emerge lead from the Low Countries to Italy, Ireland to France and the Spanish Netherlands, Spain to England, and England to France. The introductory essay for the issue additionally examines recent digital projects concerned with the history of reading and reception, exploring in particular how digital resource design foregrounds questions of representation and our immersion, as critics, in the act of reception.

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