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Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England

Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England

Rebecca Herissone
Alan Howard
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England
    Book Description:

    In the seventeenth century, the concept of creativity was far removed from most of the fundamental ideas about the creative act - notions of human imagination, inspiration, originality and genius - that developed in the eighteenthand nineteenth centuries. Instead, in this period, students learned their crafts by copying and imitating past masters and did not consciously seek to break away from tradition. Most new material was made on the instructions of apatron and had to conform to external expectations; and basic tenets that we tend to take for granted-such as the primacy and individuality of the author-were apparently considered irrelevant in some contexts. This aim of this interdisciplinary collection of essays is to explore what it meant to create buildings and works of art, music and literature in seventeenth-century England and to investigate the processes by which such creations came into existence. Through a series of specific case studies, the book highlights a wide range of ideas, beliefs and approaches to creativity that existed in seventeenth-century England and places them in the context of the prevailing intellectual, social and cultural trends of the period. In so doing, it draws into focus the profound changes that were emerging in the understanding of human creativity in early modern society - transformations that would eventually lead to the development of a more recognisably modern conception of the notion of creativity. The contributors work in and across the fields of literary studies, history, musicology, history of art and history of architecture, and their work collectively explores many of the most fundamental questions about creativity posed by the early modern English 'creative arts'. REBECCA HERISSONE is Head of Music and Senior Lecturer in Musicology at the University of Manchester. ALAN HOWARD is Lecturer in Music at the University of East Anglia.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-231-0
    Subjects: Music, Art & Art History, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    Rebecca Herissone and Alan Howard
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Rebecca Herissone

    The term ‘creativity’ did not come into common usage in the English language until towards the end of the nineteenth century, which makes it a potentially odd candidate for inclusion in the title of a book that focuses on the long seventeenth century.¹ Yet theconceptof creativity as we would understand it today – ‘the faculty of being creative; ability or power to create’² – can be traced back to the earliest humanity, and there is, of course, abundant evidence of what we would regard uncontroversially as creative activities that took place in early modern England. The fact that...

  7. Creating to Order:: Patronage and the Creative Act

    • 1 ‘Big with New Events and some Unheard Success’: Absolutism and Creativity at the Restoration Court
      (pp. 15-34)
      Andrew R. Walkling

      The slow but persistent emergence of a ‘cultural turn’ in early modern British historiography over the past several decades has opened up new opportunities for exploration of the political landscape from the perspective of cultural products and production. Through the work of such scholars as Malcolm Smuts, Linda Levy Peck, Annabel Patterson, Steven Zwicker, Peter Lake and the late Kevin Sharpe, the gulf between historians and students of the creative and performing arts, and between their respective methodologies and objects of study, has narrowed considerably. Historians are now more able than ever before to assess cultural evidence alongside more traditional...

    • 2 Creativity on Several Occasions
      (pp. 35-60)
      James A. Winn

      For artists of all kinds in the seventeenth century, creativity was most often called forth by an occasion: a royal wedding, a political crisis, a birth, a death, or a new publication requiring a frontispiece or encomiastic poem. Historicisms old and new have helped make those of us who study and teach the music, art and literature of this period more sensitive to those particular occasions than were the formalists who taught us. No active scholar today would put forward what used to be called the ‘generality theory of value’, which essentially held that truly valuable artworks could be understood...

  8. Creative Identity and the Role of Print Media

    • 3 Author, Musician, Composer: Creator? Figuring Musical Creativity in Print at the Turn of the Seventeenth Century
      (pp. 63-86)
      Kirsten Gibson

      Over the past twenty-five years much ink has been spilt by literary scholars of the early modern period over issues relating to creativity, notions of authorship and the influence and impact of print technology.¹ While Edmund Spenser’s foray into print has been described as an act of ‘textual self-monumentalization’,² the publication of Ben Jonson’sWorkesin 1616 has been proclaimed, in Joseph Loewenstein’s words, as ‘a major event in the history of what one might call the bibliographic ego’.³ At the turn of the seventeenth century English composers including William Byrd, Thomas Morley and John Dowland also chose actively to...

    • 4 Published Musical Variants and Creativity: An Overview of John Playford’s Role as Editor
      (pp. 87-104)
      Stephanie Carter

      Recognition of the networks involved in the creation and production of printed texts has been the central focus of historians of the book since the 1950s.¹ Fundamental to the production of the printed music book are, among others, printers, publishers, booksellers and binders, not to mention authors, composers and editors. As Kirsten Gibson describes in the previous chapter, scholarship has largely concentrated on issues relating to the author. Only recently have early editors of printed texts been taken into account to any significant extent, despite recognition that, in Robert Iliffe’s words, the ‘manifestation of the “editor”’ is ‘intimately bound up...

  9. Mapping Knowledge:: The Visual Representation of Ideas

    • 5 Space, Text and Creativity in the Late Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
      (pp. 107-130)
      Raphael Hallett

      Edward Phillips’s attempt to define creation in 1671 highlights a number of issues that are central to developments in thinking about creativity, knowledge and artistic innovation during the seventeenth century.¹ His idea of creating ‘something’ from ‘nothing’ implies, at one level, absolute novelty: a lack of precedence, a complete rupture with and effacement of a past state or experience; something appears where once there was emptiness or blankness. Simultaneously, however, the emphasis on ‘making’ and especially ‘forming’ suggests that there are materials to be moulded: existing matter to be reshaped into something new; Phillips suggests that creation has to be...

    • 6 The ‘Artificial Sceane’: The Re-Creation of Italian Architecture in John Evelyn’s Diary
      (pp. 131-148)
      Anne Hultzsch

      This essay grows from a concern with the old art-historical problem of how the perception of art, or in this case more specifically architecture, changes over time. It sets out to explore how verbal representations preserve clues about such changes in the way we see the world, while proposing that the dialogue between subject and object is perhaps more palpable in texts than it is in pictures. The protagonist is seventeenth-century diarist John Evelyn, who travelled in Italy between 1644 and 1646. The account of this journey forms part of his seminalDiary, which he compiled mainly retrospectively from the...

  10. Authorial Identity

    • 7 Telling what is Told: Originality and Repetition in Rubens’s English Works
      (pp. 151-180)
      Marina Daiman

      This chapter will probe early modern notions of creativity by considering the artistic activities, in and for England, of the most sought-after painter in seventeenth-century Europe – Peter Paul Rubens.¹ The artist’s busy workshop helped to satisfy the demand for his works, and as a result Rubens’s English patrons, ranging from various dignitaries to Charles I himself, were the recipients of paintings with varying degrees of the master’s own participation. An inquiry into Rubens’s practice of delegating to studio assistants, and into the value placed by him and his British viewers on autography, will elucidate attitudes towards the manual aspects...

    • 8 Plagiarism at the Academy of Ancient Music: A Case Study in Authorship, Style and Judgement
      (pp. 181-198)
      Stephen Rose

      Authorship is not merely a facet of the creative process: it also shapes the reception of a text, artwork or musical composition. For audiences or readers, knowledge of an author’s identity is a means to recognize and classify pieces of literature, art and music. The author’s name shapes evaluative discourse about his or her works, carrying connotations of value and prestige. Already in the sixteenth century, the names of some authors carried such power that audiences might suspend their judgement. Such a situation was described in Baldassare Castiglione’sIl Cortegianoof 1528:

      Every one of us here, have many times,...

  11. Imitation and Arrangement

    • 9 A Meeting of Amateur and Professional: Playford’s ‘Compendious Collection’ of Two-Part Airs, Court-Ayres (1655)
      (pp. 201-232)
      John Cunningham

      The English two-part repertoire for treble and bass is perhaps best known from the various publications issued by John Playford in the second half of the seventeenth century, the first of which appeared as part ofA Musicall Banquet(1651).¹ TheBanquetwas obviously intended to gauge the potential market for printed music, and formed the blueprint for several of Playford’s later publications.² The volume was divided into four sections, as outlined on the title page:

      The first Part presents you with Excellent new Lessons for theLira Viol, set to severall New Tunings. The second a Collection of New...

    • 10 ‘Creating’ Cato in Early Seventeenth-Century England
      (pp. 233-252)
      Freyja Cox Jensen

      When Richard Brathwaite compiled hisThe Scholler’s Medleyof 1614, he justified his use of fragmentary portions of Roman history by claiming that they were of the utmost utility to his readers. In recording and scrutinizing the lives of significant individuals, Brathwaite wrote, history ‘truly demonstrates the life of the person, characters his vertues, or vices’.¹ History, then, in the minds of most seventeenth-century gentlemen, recorded the deeds of the great, the good and the downright wicked in order that they might be preserved for posterity and prove useful in later times:

      Many worthy Statists haue desired, and in themselues...

  12. The Performer as Creator

    • 11 ‘Our Friend Venus Performed to a Miracle’: Anne Bracegirdle, John Eccles and Creativity
      (pp. 255-280)
      Amanda Eubanks Winkler

      One spectator observed, ‘Our friend Venus performed to a miracle’.¹ ‘By a Potent and Magnetick Charm in performing a Song’, another commented, she ‘caus’d theStones of the Streets to fly in the Men’s Faces’.² These effusive remarks both refer to the renowned actress–singer Anne Bracegirdle (baptised 1671, died 1748; for a portrait, see Plate 11.1), who frequently provoked enthusiastic responses from those who witnessed her considerable talents. She worked consistently – first with the United Company and later with the company at Lincoln’s Inn Fields – from 1688 to 1707, when she retired from the stage; judging from...

    • 12 Music and Manly Wit in Seventeenth-Century England: The Case of the Catch
      (pp. 281-308)
      Linda Phyllis Austern

      In Act II, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare’sTwelfth Night, first performed as the seventeenth century opened, the knights Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek call for wine. Immediately after the arrival of the clown, Feste, Aguecheek asks for a song and his drinking companion a catch. Their merry midnight revels are interrupted by Maria, serving woman to their hostess (who is also Sir Toby’s niece), following their performance of the three-voice catch ‘Hold thy peace’.¹ ‘What a catterwalling doe you keepe heere?’, exclaims Maria; ‘If my Ladie haue not call’d vp her StewardMaluolio, and bid him turne...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 309-342)
  14. Index
    (pp. 343-354)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 355-355)