When history obliged English poets to regard themselves as victims of the Roman Conquest rather than rightful heirs of classical Latin culture, it also required a redefinition of their relations with Roman literature. Keilen shows how the poets’ search for a new beginning drew them to rework familiar fables about Orpheus, Philomela, and Circe, and invent a new point of departure for their own poetic history.
"Keilen rethinks the package of ideas and facts we call antiquarianism, so that antiquarian is the last thing they seem."—Annabel Patterson, author of Nobody's Perfect
"Keilen possesses an original, unclassifiable intelligence. He weaves elegantly philological arguments about the antique into a counterplot that illuminates a nativist, unrefined, and hybrid early modern England. Vulgar Eloquence will make us rethink the Spenser-to-Shakespeare-to-Milton canon, not by throwing out classicism and tradition, but by redefining it."—Leonard Barkan, Princeton University