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Renaissance Papers 2010

Renaissance Papers 2010

Andrew Shifflett
Edward Gieskes
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Renaissance Papers 2010
    Book Description:

    'Renaissance Papers' collects the best scholarly essays submitted each year to the Southeastern Renaissance Conference. The present volume opens with two essays on Shakespeare: one considering the special force of Iago's villainy, the other situating '2 Henry VI' in relation to the "clowning" of the Marprelate tracts. The volume then turns to links between religion, rhetoric, technology, and theatrical practice, with interdisciplinary essays on the oral street culture of St. Paul's Cross, cosmetics in Thomas Dekker's Whore of Babylon, and the mixing of genres in George Peele's 'David and Bethsabe.' Following these are essays taking more traditional approaches to two of the most fascinating figures in Renaissance studies: John Donne, whose skill at epistolary insult may have been the real cause of his father-in-law's outrage, and Pietro Aretino, whose "afterlife" in England is engagingly treated. The volume closes with essays showcasing a range of interests in the history of ideas: the metaphysics of light in Patrizi and Caravaggio, the representation of common law courts and special tribunals in Spenser's 'Faerie Queene,' and the anthropocentrism of Sir Francis Bacon. Contributors: Jackson C. Boswell, Jason E. Cohen, Thomas W. Dabbs, George L. Geckle, M. Thomas Hester, Delane Karalow, Robert Kilgore, Kirk Melnikoff, James Schiavoni, Andrew Tumminia. Andrew Shifflett and Edward Gieskes are Associate Professors of English at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-775-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. Aretino’s Life and His Afterlife in England
    (pp. 1-10)
    Jackson C. Boswell

    Pietro Aretino lived from 1492 to 1556. In English-speaking lands, he is far better known for his tarnished reputation as a pornographer than he is by actual readers. This fame (or rather infamy) is based mainly on a few lascivious sonnets he wrote as a youth (about which, more later). He was also rather well known for three slim volumes of raw satire known collectively as Il ragionamenti. This work purportedly records the conversations of a couple of middle-aged women who talk frankly about the career opportunities open to females. A talented trollop tells her bosom buddy that society has...

  4. Mixing Genres in George Peele’s David and Bethsabe
    (pp. 11-22)
    Robert Kilgore

    I want to advance three interconnected claims: 1) George Peele’s play about David is intentional about mixing genres, despite its reputation for disregarding conventional genres altogether; 2) most writers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries make David an example that can be used for various personal and political ends; 3) by mixing genres, Peele’s play on David complicates the process of making David an example. All of this matters because Peele’s play has been undervalued and the period’s use of David too simply understood. The implications are dramatic, poetic, religious, and political.

    Peele’s David and Bethsabe—the full title is...

  5. Royal Prerogative versus the Common Law in A View of the Present State of Ireland and The Faerie Queene, Book 5
    (pp. 23-34)
    James Schiavoni

    This essay argues that Spenser’s representations of law are influenced by a bitter struggle between common law and prerogative courts in the sixteenth century. Spenser’s concern with legal cases springs not just from his own interests but from the contested status of law in sixteenth-century England. The English Reformation had disrupted the conceptual and practical relationships between different courts. Henry VIII’s abolition of Roman Catholic canon law created a vacuum that he attempted to fill with royal power over the church and the legislature.¹ But the English nation gradually rejected absolutism in favor of the native tradition, which favored civil...

  6. The Limits of Clowning in the Age of Marprelate: The Anti-Martinist Tracts and 2 Henry VI
    (pp. 35-64)
    Kirk Melnikoff

    The discursive complexity of Jack Cade’s theatrical debut in 2 Henry VI is well underscored by his early vow of “Reformation.” By the close of the sixteenth century, the word had become ubiquitous in London’s social and cultural sphere. Understood in the context of his political rebellion, Cade’s fourth-act declaration most immediately conjured contemporary Elizabethan political discourse.¹ “All rebels pretend reformation,” wrote Raphael Holinshed in his Chronicles (1587), “but indeed purpose destruction both of king and countrie.”² Of course, Cade’s “Reformation” also evoked rapidly changing theological connotations. Embraced in the 1560s to describe the break of European churches from Rome,...

  7. Shakespeare’s Iago
    (pp. 65-76)
    George L. Geckle

    In the introduction to his Arden Shakespeare Othello, E. A. J. Honigmann tries to make a case that it is the greatest of Shakespeare’s tragedies: “We may fairly call it the most exciting of the tragedies—even the most unbearably exciting—so why not the greatest?”¹ I leave that judgment to others (I still opt for Hamlet), but Othello is certainly a great work of art. So what is it about, and what makes it so exciting?

    David Bevington in his introduction to the play in The Complete Works of Shakespeare says that in this tragedy the “action concerns sexual...

  8. Francesco Patrizi da Cherso, Caravaggio, and the Metaphysics of Light
    (pp. 77-86)
    Delane Karalow

    In the history of art, the paintings of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610) are placed chronologically at the end of the Late Mannerist period and, therefore, at the inception of what came to be called the Baroque. Unquestionably, his works signal a major transition. The years in Rome between 1592 and 1606 when he executed his revolutionary works were a time in which principal philosophical, theological, and scientific ideas were being reconsidered. In the wake of the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent (1543–65) there was a complex tension between the prevailing Aristotelian philosophy, Neoplatonism, and the...

  9. Being John Donne in 1602
    (pp. 87-96)
    M. Thomas Hester

    John Donne’s 1601 marriage to the daughter of Sir George More, laments Izaak Walton in his Protestant hagiography, was “the remarkable error of his life.” Only the “mutuall affection, [which] made their bread of sorrow taste more pleasant than the banquet of fooles, might be urged,” he says, “to moderate a severe censure” of Donne’s error. In fact, asserts Walton, Donne himself “never seemed to [have] justifie[d] the flattering mischief [of this] passion”—even though he had “a wit apt enough, and [was] very able to make paradoxes.”¹ I wish to “moderate” Walton’s “severe censure” of the clandestine 1601 marriage...

  10. The Problem of the Human in Sir Francis Bacon
    (pp. 97-122)
    Jason E. Cohen

    What is humanity for Francis Bacon, and how do his texts work out its conception? His works rely on implied articulations of humanity, and his pliant deployment of the term complicates its many uses. The “Preface” to Bacon’s Instauratio Magna faults men for failing to pursue the sciences fully, “And so they [i.e., men] are like fatal pillars of Hercules to the sciences; for they are not stirred by the desire or hope of going further.”¹ Despite his forward assertion of his doubts about men’s past or present intentions,² Bacon nevertheless relies on a conception of humanity that can and...

  11. The Glamorous Echoes of Godly Print
    (pp. 123-134)
    Thomas W. Dabbs

    From roughly 1557, the charter year of the London Company of Stationers, there was within the City of London an increase in the circulation of printed works and an unprecedented increase in literacy and semi-literacy within a growing population increasingly able to afford cheap printed works. As scholars of literacy during this period have repeatedly pointed out, it is difficult to determine precise levels of literacy during the Elizabethan period. What is more pertinent is recent research into the accelerated relationship between literacy and word of mouth, what David Cressy calls the “spillover from the literate to the illiterate.”¹ There...

  12. “More cullors than the Rainbowe caries”: Catholics, Cosmetics, and the Aesthetic Economy of Protestant England
    (pp. 135-160)
    Andrew Tumminia

    Politics and political economy, to be sure, are implicated in every discourse on art and on the beautiful,” Jacques Derrida writes at the outset of “Economimesis” (3).¹ Derrida’s subject, Immanuel Kant’s Third Critique, the Critique of Judgment, is no different, though the exact influence politics and political economy have on the Critique is not so certain. Tracing that influence is Derrida’s aim in the article, but he claims that the politicization of historical discursive networks impedes the type of analysis he wants to pursue in “Economimesis,” preventing him from isolating a point of origin and requiring him “once again to...

  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 161-161)