Dr Devani Singh


My Leverhulme project is titled ‘To the Reader: The English Preface in Print, c. 1475-1623'. It examines prefaces addressed to readers in English books printed until 1623 to chart their increasing prominence and to assess their significance in relation to the emerging conventions of print culture. Working from Caxton to Shakespeare, the project identifies the preface to the reader as a vital site of exchange between the makers and readers of books. It ventures beyond canonical literary works to account for the proliferation of prefaces to readers across several genres of late medieval and early modern printed texts.

I am also writing a monograph based on my doctoral thesis, provisionally titled ‘Chaucer’s Old Books and Early Modern Readers’. This work writes a history of Chaucer’s ‘old’ books—fifteenth-century manuscripts and early printed volumes—in relation to the emergent authority of the printed editions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Grounded in the collections, reading habits, and bibliographical practices of historical readers, it offers material evidence that Chaucer and his works presented an occasion for early modern readers to think about the value, authority, and limitations of older volumes in an age where new books proliferated. 


I was educated at the universities of Toronto (BA, Hons), Oxford (MPhil), and Cambridge (PhD), where I was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Before returning to Oxford as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in 2018, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Geneva. I have been the recipient of research fellowships awarded by the Bibliographical Society, the Bodleian Centre for the Study of the Book, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Jackman Humanities Institute (JHI) at the University of Toronto. 


  • Newly Discovered Shakespeare Passages in Bel-vedére or The Garden of the Muses (1600)

  • Shakespeare in Geneva Early Modern English Books, 1475-1700 at the Martin Bodmer Foundation

  • Caxton and his Readers: Histories of Book Use in a copy of The Canterbury Tales (c. 1483)

  • “In his old dress”: Packaging Thomas Speght's Chaucer for Renaissance Readers

  • “Imagining the World of Early Print.”

  • More
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