New article at Philological Quarterly

Philological Quarterly 98.4 (2019) has graciously published my discussion of Prynne’s commentaries. The essay is a bit cramped, but contains things about philology, commentary, and tries to tease out some theoretical convictions lurking behind Prynne’s adaptation of that form. Here’s an excerpt:

Such commentaries represent a renovation of commentary as critical
practice in English studies. Neither their interdisciplinarity nor their den-
sity is unique; critics as different as Erich Auerbach, Giorgio Agamben,
Helen Vendler, and Jacques Derrida have shown what can be done with
and through commentary. But Prynne’s commentary is of an extreme kind:
a radicalized version of close reading that frames the poem as a locus of
convergent and contradictory tendencies whose sedimentation supersedes
both author and reader. Despite the brilliant adumbrations in the margins,
the commentary retains its marginality by making the poem into a cur-
riculum. Never has the aesthetic autonomy of the single poem been so
challenged than by so intensely focusing on a single poem.