Go Figure: Energies, Forms, and Institutions in the Early Modern World

Go Figure: Energies, Forms, and Institutions in the Early Modern World

Judith H. Anderson
Joan Pong Linton
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 228
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    Go Figure: Energies, Forms, and Institutions in the Early Modern World
    Book Description:

    Go Figure addresses theories of the figure and practices of figuration ranging from classical rhetoric and biblical exegesis to semiotics, psychoanalysis, and socio-politics. Situating theory in history, the essays in this volume focus on verbal and visual texts from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, and they explore science, sacramental poetics, romance and lyric narrative, and the natural world in still lifes, prayer, parasites, and politics. They engage the work of poets, painters, storytellers, and playwrights. While the theories that inform them are many and various, they share a point of reference in the work of Jean-Franois Lyotard, who theorizes the co-presence in language of the figure and discourse: Lyotard's figure relates to discourse as image emerges in description, as sense accompanies signification, and as energies shape texts from within. The original essays invited for the volume show how figural energies and forms inhabit both texts and the practices that produce them-how figures are fundamentally in play in the making of subjects, societies, traditions, and institutions.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4884-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    InGo Figure, our focus on figuration joins a semiotic emphasis to a sociopolitical one and seeks to achieve, if only cumulatively, a kind of wholeness. Our collection is at once formal and historical, semiotic and cultural, aesthetic and material. We engage the dominant emphases of recent decades, especially material history, embracing religion, politics, science, and class, and we also engage emphases that have recently emerged on the critical landscape, such as the so-called “new aestheticism” or “new formalism” and the even more recently minted “historical formalism.” Pigeon-holing-isms(especially premature ones) are undesirable in our view, but they already exist...

  4. Spenser’s Giant and the New Science
    (pp. 19-37)

    Artegall’s debate with the egalitarian Giant in Book V of Spenser’sFaerie Queenehas long been recognized by readers as raising, more explicitly than elsewhere in the poem, issues about language and representation that are fundamental to it. In his eagerness to argue down the Giant, Artegall ends up contradicting the Proem to Book V (on the existence of change in the world), the description of his own upbringing in canto i (where he is able at least figuratively to weigh right and wrong in a balance), and, ironically for a fictional character in an allegorical poem, denigrating the power...

  5. The Sacramental Neuter and the Missing Body in Robert Southwell’s Poetics
    (pp. 38-57)

    Mindful of the hazard of abusive simplification, this essay ventures an excavation of the recalcitrant terrain opened up by Maurice Blanchot’s 1963 essay on the “thought of the neuter” from which the epigraph to this essay is taken. I want to hollow out a space in the archive of critical discourse on the neuter—from the Latinne-uter, neither this nor that—in order to indicate how the enterprise of thinking the neuter, by which I mean treating the neuter as both object and tool of inquiry, offers a compelling opportunity, redeemed from the exile Blanchot describes, to rethink the...

  6. Reconfiguring Figuring: John Donne as Narrative Poet
    (pp. 58-72)

    An essay on narrativity invites assays at narrative; an article on form invites the dovetailing of memoir with more traditional scholarly prose. Some years ago a distinguished colleague kindly agreed to read two chapters of the book I was writing. About the first chapter he made a number of acute and generally though not invariably appreciative comments. About the other he offered only one sentence: “This chapter is formalist.” Clearly pejorative, not merely descriptive, this act of predication implied that no further analysis need or should be wasted on the errant pages in question. This story anticipates my subject here...

  7. The Narrative Turn against Metaphor: Metonymy, Identification, and Roger Boyle’s Parthenissa
    (pp. 73-90)

    Roger Boyle’sParthenissa, published serially throughout the 1650s, is one of a group of mid seventeenth-century British prose romances that share a penchant for political allegory. In keeping with generic predecessors such as Philip Sidney’sArcadia, Mary Wroth’sUrania, and especially John Barclay’sArgenis, these long and narratively complex romances use their fictions of aristocratic lovers and soldiers to debate contemporary problems in ethics and political theory and to represent national and international political events. Most mid-century romance became obscure within a few years of the Restoration, butParthenissawas read well into the eighteenth century, when by conventional literary...

  8. Caterpillage: Death and Truthiness in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Still Life Painting
    (pp. 91-111)

    Ever since its emergence at the turn of the seventeenth century, the aesthetic body of Dutch still life painting has been hamstrung by iconography. Viewed through the magnific lens ofBritannica Online, iconography is “the science of identification, description, classification, and interpretation of symbols, themes, and subject matter in the visual arts. The term can also refer to the artist’s use of this imagery in a particular work.”² The Wikipedian etymology gets us closer to the problem: “The word iconography literally means ‘image writing’, and comes from the Greekeikon(image) andgraphein(to write).”³ Iconography, then, is the practice...

  9. Figuring Belief: George Herbert’s Devotional Creatures
    (pp. 112-131)

    In the early modern English devotional lexicon,the creaturesignified the vast array of beings and things created by God. “Meditation on the creature,” a form of contemplative practice developed within medieval theology, encouraged the devout to survey the immense complexity and glory of God’s handiwork as a way of intensifying their faith. By reflecting upon the multiplicity of God’s creative accomplishments believers were to be able to achieve a more profound awareness of the sublime magnitude of his power.² Recent scholarship has shown us how this theological understanding of creatureliness within modernity—which clearly embeds accounts of sovereign authority,...

  10. Entertaining Friends: Falstaff’s Parasitology
    (pp. 132-148)

    Shakespeare’s frequent friendship pairings can congeal for us in a single figure in the imagination, one that is dyadic rather than binary. I refer particularly to those pairs in an “entertainer/entertained” relation, of the sort familiar in the modern entertainment industry, particularly in comedy teams continuing the tradition of nineteenth-century minstrel “interlocutors” (the bantering partners often consisting of a comic naϊf and a straight man). Thus we recall Burns and Allen or even today, Penn and the semi-mute Teller. Among prominent Shakespearean pairs of this nature we immediately think of the Fool and Lear, Puck and Oberon, Enobarbus and Antony,...

  11. Skin Merchants: Jack Cade’s Futures and the Figural Politics of Henry VI, Part II
    (pp. 149-170)

    In Act IV, scene ii ofHenry VI, Part II(1590 /91 ), Dick the Butcher speaks the line that will be remembered: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” (IV. ii. 71).¹ Rebel leader Jack Cade agrees, “Nay, that I mean to do,” but pauses, adding the more open-ended, “Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment; that parchment, being scribbled o’er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings, but I say, ’tis the bee’s wax; for I did but seal once to a...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 171-204)
  13. List of Contributors
    (pp. 205-206)
  14. Index
    (pp. 207-216)