Mnemonic criticism as I have been outlining it has still other closely related applications. By investigating the popular emblems of death and accompanying doggerel, designed to remind the viewer of his or her ultimate end, we can rescue from obscurity some of the commonplace images and moral saws known to Catholics and Protestants alike. After all, with its explicit commemorative injunction to reflect on the motto “Memento Mori” [Remember your Death], the death's head is a focal emblem of the Renaissance. Treating the Book of Christian Prayers, better known as Queen Elizabeth's Prayer Book, in terms of mnemonic criticism enables us to elucidate the relation of the visual and textual properties of this popular work in ways never before attempted. Such an approach permits us to address the rationale behind the series of moral messages along the margins of this book which are conveyed by hieroglyphic memorials of man's transience and of God's grand design. Looking at the home prayer book in this way, at its messages and its method for conveying them, will make accessible to contemporary readers the ways the ars memorativa was expressed through and, in some cases, gave shape to contemplative texts.
Mnemonic Criticism & Renaissance Literature: A Manifesto