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Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell$
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Christopher D'Addario and Matthew Augustine

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113894

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113894.001.0001

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Extraordinarily ordinary: Nehemiah Wallington’s experimental method

Extraordinarily ordinary: Nehemiah Wallington’s experimental method

(p.75) 4 Extraordinarily ordinary: Nehemiah Wallington’s experimental method
Texts and readers in the Age of Marvell

Kathleen Lynch

Manchester University Press

The nature of note-taking is a renewed subject of scholarly inquiry – whether in service of humanistic eloquence, Baconian scientific practice, an aid to memory, or an early stage of writing. Messy notebooks give us access to a range of organisational strategies for managing knowledge, many of them improvisational, many evolving out of older humanistic practices. This chapter analyses the surviving evidence of Nehemiah Wallington’s four decades of devotional note-taking. Wallington exemplifies the godly practices of non-elite, lay cultures, but he does so as both an early adopter and a sustained practitioner. Two elements of his observational method emerge in ‘An Extract of severall passages in my life’: a juxtaposition of organizational schemes – one chronological, the other topical – and a habitual commitment to the bound blank book. Collectively and over time, his books constitute a memory palace – with size and colour of covers and pages operating mnemonically. By attending to such texts, we can also achieve a fuller understanding of early modern reading and writing practices.

Keywords:   Nehemiah Wallington, Observational method, Memory, History of reading

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