Citation Williams KJ (2014) Canon before Canon, Literature before Literature: Thomas Pope Blount and the Scope of Early Modern Learning. Huntington Library Quarterly, 77 (2), pp. 177-199. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/hlq.2014.77.2.177; https://doi.org/10.1525/hlq.2014.77.2.177
Abstract Sir Thomas Pope Blount (1649–1697), an English essayist and country gentleman, published two major literary biobibliographies, Censura celebriorum authorum (1690) and De re poetica (1694). In this essay, Kelsey Jackson Williams discusses the texts within the genre of historia literaria and contemporary understandings of literature. In doing so, he engages with current debates surrounding canon formation and the shifts in disciplinary boundaries that followed in the wake of the Battle of the Books. Early modern canons and definitions of “literature” differed radically from their modern equivalents, and a close reading of Blount’s work offers a window onto this forgotten literary landscape.