An assessment of recent scholarly work treating the literature of the English Renaissance and some general observations on the state of the profession. A full bibliography and price list of works received by SEL for consideration follow.
The exercise of reviewing books on nondramatic Renaissance literature released over twelve months from August 2015 until August 2016 feels a bit like speculating on the futures market. Analyzing the way things have recently been, I am also guessing at what is to come. (Buy ecocriticism, sell globalism, is my guess. I explain further below.) I hasten to point out, however, that I am completing this essay just after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, whose results proved me—like many, many others—abjectly inept at predicting the future. Take my forecasting with due caution.
I begin by observing that the books that arrived for my review did not surprise me in terms of their topics, since they reflect the kinds of concerns that have been aired recently at major conferences in Renaissance studies. The number of books in certain areas did, however, surprise me to some extent. Although the vagaries of publishing mean that any given year might see a coincidental surge in one type of study and temporary dearth in another, three trends seem evident: John Donne may be shouldering aside Milton as the Renaissance nondramatic poet about whom books may be written and marketed; cultural-studies books bearing titles fitting the formula “Such-and-Such Cultural Group, Practice, or Object in Early Modern Culture” are on the wane; and some of the best current work in the field connects literature to science (including the “dismal science,” economics), materiality, and/or knowledge practices. I readily acknowledge, however, [End Page 181] that if I had read these books alongside the 2015 books on dramatic literature, I might change these assessments entirely. Last year’s review by Graham Hammill commented on the increasing untenability of separating dramatic from nondramatic literature in review essays such as these, and I must agree. This opinion requires me to apologize even more than would be customary for the reviewer’s expedient of giving short shrift to portions of books that are about dramatic rather than nondramatic texts. Many of these will of course be considered by my successor in the Spring 2017 issue. I have also, regretfully, omitted anthologies of literature intended for the trade market rather than the classroom, as well as books on medieval literature that only briefly stick a toe over the early modern line.
I begin with the most literary topic in literary criticism in this year’s collection: two slim but marvelous volumes on Renaissance poetics. Their topics are both deceptively simple. Andrew Mattison’s The Unimagined in the English Renaissance: Poetry and the Limits of Mimesis argues for the importance of poetry that is decidedly not a speaking picture. As opposed to the thing theory and the emphasis on materialism that occupy so much recent criticism, as I discuss below, Mattison proposes an antimaterialist and even antirepresentationalist element in Spenser, Donne, and Milton. Spenser’s shorter poems posit themselves as existing in a “literary wasteland” (p. 48) where scarcity of experience hobbles poetry’s ability to say what the poet wishes to say, and The Faerie Queene gets at the same problem from the side of the reader/perceiver by frequently characterizing its landscapes as unintelligible, unreal. Donne’s secular lyrics, in contrast, enjoy the flexibility of imagistic instability and inconsistency, as every seemingly solid image, from well-wrought urn to newfound land, expands and contracts to be both more and less than it is. Milton’s poetry plays the attractions and the insufficiencies of poetic description against each other, both between characters (Satan vs. Jesus in Paradise Regained) and between poems (epic visual ambition in Paradise Lost vs. the sometimes-emancipatory limitations of image in Paradise Regained and “Methought I saw my late espousèd saint”). While Mattison is often clearer on what poetry can’t represent than on what nonrepresentation offers in mimesis’s stead, he ultimately offers a powerful argument that early modern nondramatic poetry initiates an ongoing counter current [End Page 182] of literature that exceeds imagism and even narrative. Mattison’s book should certainly be read in conjunction with Heather Dubrow’s suggestive Deixis in the Early Modern English Lyric: Unsettling Spatial Anchors Like “Here,” “This,” “Come,” part of Palgrave Macmillan’s Pivot series. Whereas Mattison argues for a productive crisis in the mimetic, Dubrow argues for a productive crisis in the situational: the “spatial anchor” words mentioned in the book’s title often point not to fixed location but to volatility, fluidity, and uncertainty. Thus Spenser’s spatial deictics in “Epithalamion” represent a temporary, perhaps one-time-only, tactic for commanding space; Shakespeare’s in the Sonnets enact and confound the speaker’s agency; Mary Wroth’s in “Song 1” disrupt not only space and its ownership but also temporality and sexuality; and Donne’s in “Hymn to God My God, in My Sickness” unsettle the certainty of salvation. Despite its brevity, Dubrow’s study does an admirable job of indicating what theoretical and historico-cultural issues are at stake in these displacements. A last volume contributing to studies of Renaissance poetics, Sonia Hernández-Santano’s edition of William Webbe’s A Discourse of English Poetry (1586), is an unexpected treasure: an affordable, well-introduced, paperback edition of a text companionate to George Gascoigne’s, George Puttenham’s, and Philip Sidney’s discourses on poetry and poetics.
While a number of books this year address humanism to some degree, only two address that mainstay of humanism, the reception of classical texts by early modern authors. Luckily, they are both massive and both indispensable. The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, Volume 2: 1558–1660, edited by Patrick Cheney and Philip Hardie, is a stunning volume. Every essay is written by exactly the scholar you would choose to have written it. The straightforward headings in the table of contents for three groups of essays (“Institutions and Contexts,” “Genre,” and “Authors”), along with the fact that each essay is preceded by an abstract, make it easy to find one’s way. The essays themselves take on essential rather than faddish topics, and they strike a useful middle tone between assuming some knowledge of the contours of early modern England and assuming close acquaintance. Attention throughout the volume to matters of early pedagogy and to the availability of classical texts in their original languages and in translation is especially welcome. A [End Page 183] scholar beginning her training is not left wondering, for example, whether Milton read Plato in Greek or in translation. Most of all, the essays in this volume read like essential introductions to the topics named by their brief titles, pieces one should read on (to name just a few of the essays) “Tragedy” or “Pastoral and Georgic” or “Spenser” or “Marlowe” even if one is not explicitly interested in the theme of classical reception in those genres or authors. It is a pity this book is jaw-droppingly expensive, since it should be on the shelf of every graduate student.
Jessica Wolfe’s Homer and the Question of Strife from Erasmus to Hobbes proves exactly how interested in the theme of classical reception one ought to be. What does it mean that the Iliad and Odyssey provide early modern literature with a complex lexicon for conflict? Wolfe’s answer is that early modern authors transvalue Homer into the predecessor they want and need to verify their own intuitions about the uses of and solutions for strife. The strengths of Wolfe’s study include her consideration of Homer’s traces in works previously not much addressed in discussions of Homeric debt, such as Erasmus’s Adages and The Faerie Queene; her attentive, subtle close readings of a backbreaking range of major authors and texts; and her ability to trace the multiple and sometimes contradictory meanings that Homer can carry even within one author or text. Thus Erasmus’s reading of strife in Homer reflects his ambivalence about the verbal and intellectual aggression endemic to humanist and theological polemic, whereas Philip Melanchthon reads Homer as, in the end, either supportive of Christian peace or inimical to it, and François Rabelais introduces a Homer whose fundamentally ironic nature lends itself to expressing opposing attitudes. More than half of Wolfe’s book is taken up with the Homerics of English authors, with lengthy, intricate chapters on Spenser, George Chapman, Milton, and Thomas Hobbes—all of whom, for Wolfe, seek to recuperate the virtues of strife as well as meliorate its excesses. Spenser revises the Neo-Platonic interpretation of Homer’s golden chain between Olympus and earth from a symbol of perfect accord to a symbol of maintaining eris in fruitful tension and rivalry with quiescence. Chapman, in contrast, by reminding his readers repeatedly of Homer’s mastery of irony, elevates ironic poetry (including his own) to the status of divine wisdom: poetry is the art of restrained, bemused scorn. In a standout chapter on Milton, Wolfe dives deep into Paradise Lost’s use of such Homeric techniques as the conditional and the counterfactual—“And now X might have happened, had not … Y intervened” (p. 317)—in situations of [End Page 184] temporal tension involving contingency, deliberation, and choice. A translator of Homer himself, Hobbes, in contrast, finds in the Iliad and Odyssey stories about the ill-advisedness of disagreement and contention, which must be suppressed by the proper application of law within civil life. None of Wolfe’s overall visions of these Renaissance authors proves unusual or counterintuitive, but what is unusual and counterintuitive is the way she carefully, accumulatively shows these authors’ ability to read Homer for his turns of phrase, not just his themes, and to convert those turns of phrase into rhetorical equivalents and props of their own purpose.
PRINTING AND THE ARCHIVE
The study of the material culture of writing and the book continues to be an interesting part of the field representing a wide range of approaches, from the extremely technical and historical to the extremely theoretical. On the “technical and historical” end is Peter W. M. Blayney’s The Stationers’ Company and the Printers of London, 1501–1557: Volume 2, 1547–1557. Volume 2 takes up the story when Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset’s protectorship of the new King Edward VI brought about a short but significant loosening of Henry VIII’s printing restrictions, and continues to the incorporation by royal charter of the Stationers’ Company. It goes without saying that anyone interested in printing and book production should read Blayney’s work, but this book should also be consulted by those interested in women’s labor (as owners of printing houses), religious freedom and censorship, and the history of pedagogy. Also on the more technical and historical side of the history of manuscript culture, Sebastiaan Verweij’s The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland: Manuscript Production and Transmission, 1560–1625 adds an important counterbalance to the many studies of English manuscript production during this period. Surprising differences exist: for example, Verweij demonstrates that universities in Scotland, unlike those in England, did not foster a culture of vernacular poetic production, whereas Scotland fostered a thriving merchant-class literary culture that did not exist in England. Verweij seems to be working with a fairly small corpus of manuscripts of verse miscellanies and the like, compared to the archive available to those working on English sources, but he mines and extrapolates from his sources a convincing argument about how Scottish writers and collectors of manuscript verse in Court, city, and countryside both consumed English literary production and [End Page 185] differentiated their work from that of the English. Also focusing on manuscript culture, the collection Cultures of Correspondence in Early Modern Britain, edited by James Daybell and Andrew Gordon, straddles historical and theoretical claims. A number of the essays deal with the material nitty-gritty of early modern letter writing. A few of these are narrow enough that they do not explain how the author’s argument impinges upon other aspects of early modern literary culture—Jonathan Gibson’s piece on warring views of proper Italic script forms, and Mark Brayshay’s survey of means and routes of letter conveyance. Others are either implicitly or explicitly more pertinent to long-standing concerns of early modernists. Nadine Akkerman’s analysis of Elizabeth of Bohemia’s cryptographic correspondence adds a new dimension to studies of coterie writing; Gordon’s piece on forged letters connects in fascinating ways to questions of imitation and originality in early modern literature; Lynne Magnusson contrasts the Ciceronian stylings of Latin-educated correspondents to what she calls the more orally inflected, sociable style of letter writers who received a vernacular education; Christopher Burlinson argues that John Stubbs created a new “left-handed” writing persona after he lost his right hand for opposing Elizabeth I’s proposed marriage to the Duke of Anjou; and Michelle O’Callaghan describes how vituperative, intemperate letter writing exposed the writer to class- and gender-based insult. The most explicitly literary essay is Andrew Zurcher’s short but suggestive piece on how the strategies of epistolary security endemic to diplomatic letter writing pop up in the Arcadia’s portrayals of factionalism and the exclusionary tone of some of The Faerie Queene. A final section of the volume treats how early modern writers and collectors of letters controlled what would go into the archive we possess today. This section includes Arnold Hunt’s piece on how Tudor-Stuart letter writers assumed their correspondence would be destroyed; Daybell’s study of women’s role in participating in and preserving family archives of correspondence; and Alan Stewart’s argument that early modern letter writers were keenly aware of where their correspondence might ultimately be stored, whether in family hands or in the “Paper Office” that eventually became the State Papers.
Two of this year’s books on writing culture concern marginal annotations of books, and thus explicitly engage larger theoretical questions of how writers imagined authorship and readers imagined their own relations to texts. Jane Griffiths’s Diverting Authorities: Experimental Glossing Practices in Manuscript and Print [End Page 186] is interested in marginalia that challenge or ironize the content of what they gloss. Either printed or handwritten on the page, and sometimes written by the author himself, these glosses participate in the late medieval and early modern eras’ understanding of the stability of writing in both manuscript and print media. Generally speaking, Griffiths’s argument is that the transition from manuscript to print and from early to late sixteenth-century print sees glossing shift from a metacommentary on the text as susceptible to authorial composition and change, to a device designed to influence the reader rhetorically. Her comparisons of manuscript and printed versions of the same text—for example, manuscripts of Gavin Douglas’s early sixteenth-century translation of the Aeneid vs. the first printed edition of 1553—convincingly bear out this argument. Chapters solely on sixteenth-century books in print show authorial self-glosses as having an interestingly ambivalent relationship to this shift. Glosses by writers such as William Baldwin (Beware the Cat), William Bullein (Dialogue against the Fever Pestilence), and Thomas Nashe (Pierce Penniless) expose the changeability and partiality of the text and the author’s persona, whereas Gascoigne and John Harington seek to elevate, solidify, and protect from harm their potentially precarious authorly status. Stephen Orgel’s The Reader in the Book: A Study of Spaces and Traces presents the topic of the alterable text in readerly terms, treating individual marked-up early modern volumes as a series of case studies in the way early modern readers made use of their books. Orgel does not have a unitary polemic about books’ use value, but that is the value of his study: his early modern readers, writing in everything from schoolbooks to First Folios of Shakespeare, prove themselves sometimes bored, sometimes entertained; sometimes censorious, sometimes delighted; sometimes obtuse, sometimes insightful.
Two edited collections have to do with ways to make the material text have meaning in the present. Teaching Early Modern English Literature from the Archives, edited by Heidi Brayman Hackel and Ian Frederick Moulton, is an invaluable resource for those of us still befuddled about how to teach the unedited text in an era of limited pedagogical resources and even more limited student time. With twenty-four essays, this volume’s contents are too plentiful and varied for me to summarize here, but each essayist offers practical suggestions for teaching the material text in an electronic age that I am eager to implement in both classroom-based and online courses. Attention to the digital is also a hallmark of New Ways of Looking at Old Texts, V: Papers of the Renaissance English [End Page 187] Text Society, 2007–2010, edited by Michael Denbo. Progress reports and use assessments are provided on the Renaissance English Knowledgebase and Professional Reading Environment projects at the University of Victoria (Raymond G. Siemens et al.); the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (Shawn Martin); the Emory Women Writers Resource Project (separate essays by Sheila T. Cavanagh, Erika Farr, and Irene J. Middleton); the Henslowe-Alleyn Digitization Project (Grace Ioppolo); and the Iter and Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies print and electronic editions of the Devonshire Manuscript (BL Add. MS. 17492; again, Siemens et al.). Eric Rasmussen diagnoses the advantages and problems associated with Cambridge University Press’s issuing an electronic supplement to its edition of Cynthia’s Revels, and Michael Best explains the opportunities offered by digital presentation in the Internet Shakespeare Editions King Lear. The unfortunate lag time between these essays’ conference presentation and their appearance in print, however, makes much of this information on the digital out of date already. Most of the volume’s remaining essays are on text editing, and all of them hold up much better—Ilona Bell’s on editing the Folger Library autograph manuscript of Wroth’s Pamphilia to Amphilanthus; Stewart’s on choosing demonstrably “authorial” texts for the Oxford Francis Bacon; Paul A. Marquis’s on editing the first critical edition of the second quarto of Richard Tottel’s Songs and Sonnets; and John Gouws’s, Denbo’s, and Helen L. Vella Bonavita’s descriptions of editing, respectively, poems by Nicholas Oldisworth, the Morgan Library Holgate Miscellany, and Thomas Mainwaringe’s translation of Caelius Secundus Curio’s History of the War of Malta. A single outlier essay has nothing to do with editing but is first-rate nonetheless: Ken Hiltner’s piece on how Francis Bacon’s plain prose style intersects with his scientific debt to artisanal practice.
Future work on religion in early modern English literature will, I hope, be sparked by Ethan H. Shagan and Debora Shuger’s marvelous classroom resource, Religion in Tudor England: An Anthology of Primary Sources, part of Baylor University Press’s Documents of Anglophone Christianity series. I applaud those institutions that are still able to attract students to courses on religious history or Tudor-Stuart history specific enough to be in need of this collection, which not only introduces theological issues chronologically, from late-medieval discussions of cloistered [End Page 188] celibacy to Richard Hooker and the Lambeth Articles, but also gives a generous sampling of religious genres (primers, prayers, psalms, and sermons). Two monographs on key themes illustrate the range of approaches that marks the still-vibrant religious turn in early modern studies. In The Destruction of Jerusalem in Early Modern English Literature, Beatrice Groves identifies a number of pressure points that made Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans a powerful point of reference in early modern England: not only perceived emergency and disaster (everything from the plague to fear of foreign invasion), but also the increasing identification of early modern English people of all religious stripes with the suffering and diasporal Jews. Groves’s talent is to tease out subtle literary references to the sack of Jerusalem in ways that not only illuminate dark corners of texts but also bring new perspectives to those texts’ main themes. The chapters that treat nondramatic literature are a case in point: in plague pamphlets and related narratives by Thomas Dekker, Nashe, Thomas Middleton, and others, Groves finds analogies between a disturbing instance of maternal cannibalism in Josephus’s account of Rome’s siege of Jerusalem, and London’s treatment of its own citizens. And in Paradise Lost she uncovers references to the early modern obsession with Josephus’s description of portents of Jerusalem’s fall, particularly armed hosts spotted in the sky. Groves’s book leads us to the peculiar point in English history in which significant numbers of people claimed, in some sense, that they were Jews. Kimberly Johnson’s Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England is more akin to Mattison’s and Dubrow’s books about poetic strategies than it is to Groves’s argument about the pervasiveness of a historical trope. Johnson needlessly denigrates previous studies of sacramentality in early modern English poetry for their eagerness to pin down poets’ doctrinal allegiances, but what she fruitfully contributes to the discussion is a keen awareness of how George Herbert, Edward Taylor, Donne, and Richard Crashaw turn the Eucharistic theme of substantial signs to poetic (or, more generally, semiotic) purposes, with Herbert and Taylor granting the Eucharistic sign something like immanence and Donne and Crashaw turning it into a figure so unleashed from what it represents that it attains an independent existence. William Franke is similarly concerned with the status of the materiality of the image. As part of his argument in Secular Scriptures: Modern Theological Poetics in the Wake of Dante, Franke argues that Milton’s religious commitments lead him to reclassify poetic imagery as “nonsacramental.” Franke overstates [End Page 189] the iconophobia of Reformed religion, especially for a theological renegade and humanist recidivist such as Milton, but his comments on Paradise Lost’s substitution of poetic evocativeness for poetic transcendence are key to his book’s thoughtful series of essays, which stretch all the way from Dante to W. B. Yeats.
WOMEN, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY
It is difficult to tell what the relative paucity of books this year on the topic of women, gender, and sexuality means. Although I am tempted to extrapolate a decline in interest in this topic, quite possibly this year’s small crop of books indicates only that studies in this area have gravitated toward drama of late, rather than toward nondramatic literature. I should note that I discuss the year’s best book in sexuality studies, Valerie Traub’s Thinking Sex with the Early Moderns, below in relation to other books about cognition and learning. Only three other monographs on women, gender, and sexuality studies reached my desk, two on seventeenth-century topics. Bonnie Lander Johnson’s Chastity in Early Stuart Literature and Culture argues that during the reign of Charles I, chastity becomes a powerful national trope for union and invulnerability in all kinds of registers—religious, political, sexual, medical—in which schism and invasion threaten. Chastity’s companion trope is, paradoxically, purgation, which similarly promises to preserve a previously troubled body. It is unclear why a Jacobean play, The Winter’s Tale, holds such pride of place throughout an argument ostensibly about Caroline culture, but Johnson’s fascinating analysis of how Henrietta Maria became a figure for both continence and contagion, associated on the one hand with marital chastity and on the other with invasive disease and even more invasive Catholicism, is an intriguing thread that bears upon her readings of a fairly wide array of Caroline literary texts, including Court masques, plays by John Ford, and Milton’s Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle. In its focus on political poems circulated in manuscript, many of them previously underdiscussed, Sarah C. E. Ross’s too-vaguely titled Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain is a significant addition to studies of women authors. Ross’s readings of Elizabeth Melville, Anne Southwell, Jane Cavendish, Hester Pulter, and Lucy Hutchinson make good on her key claims that the political vein of women’s poetry may be found in poems that are ostensibly religious or social in topic, and that a woman poet’s degree of isolation from public life does not necessarily diminish her capacity [End Page 190] to comment incisively on political affairs. The third monograph on gender this year is Olivia Weisser’s Ill Composed: Sickness, Gender, and Belief in Early Modern England, which includes writing practices among behaviors (religious belief, medical knowledge, daily work, and so forth) influenced by early modern conceptions of how illness and gender intersect. Weisser is especially incisive on the different ways in which different writing occasions—letters, journals, diaries, and so on—compose rather than record the experience of illness. Sadly, Weisser finds that early modern Englishwomen’s writing about their illnesses generally confirms stereotypes about women’s “insufficient reason and ungovernable imaginations” (p. 181). This book is essential reading for those interested in literature and early modern medicine.
This year’s work in gender and sexuality studies is also represented by two volumes representing several presses’ continuing commitment to publishing editions of early modern books by and about women. Robert Matz’s welcome and thorough edition of Two Early Modern Marriage Sermons: Henry Smith’s “A Preparative to Marriage” (1591) and William Whately’s “A Bride-Bush” (1623) appears in Routledge’s (formerly Ashgate’s) Early Modern Englishwoman 1500–1750 series; and Frances Teague’s and Margaret J. M. Ezell’s terrific classroom edition of works by Bathsua Makin and Mary More, Educating English Daughters: Late Seventeenth-Century Debates, appears in the Iter and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies series The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series. While the essay collection Maternity and Romance Narratives in Early Modern England, edited by Karen Bamford and Naomi J. Miller, is concerned mostly with male writers, it concludes with three interesting essays on women authors: Miller’s essay on “performative maternity” in Wroth; Marianne Micros’s discussion of how Margaret Cavendish’s romances “The Contract” and “Assaulted and Pursued Chastity” extend the maternal function to masculine mentors and pedagogues; and Julie A. Eckerle’s fascinating study of women’s life writing in which the onset of motherhood corresponds to the rejection of romance as a genre and as a reading preference. Along with essays on Shakespearean romance, other entries include two pieces on The Faerie Queene—Susan C. Staub’s compelling exploration of the intersections of gynecology and horticulture in book 3, and Anne-Marie Strohman’s somewhat underdeveloped study of Britomart’s deferred motherhood—as well as Richard Wood’s interesting discussion of substandard stepmothering in the Arcadia in light of Sidney’s fraught relationship with Queen Elizabeth. [End Page 191]
AFFECT, SENSATION, AND SELFHOOD
Decades ago in early modern studies, discussions of selfhood had to do with interiority; now they also have to do with the body and with the self in community. Nick Davis’s Early Modern Writing and the Privatization of Experience at first looks like a throwback, with its argument that early modern science, philosophy, and literature from (roughly) Spenser to John Bunyan saw a shift from communal identity to the privatized self, and indeed the book’s introduction revisits old quarrels between cultural materialists of the 1980s who declared the self to be an early modern invention and medievalists who cried bunkum. Quickly, however, Davis turns to a more forward-looking exploration of the early modern theories of shared affect or sympathy—pneuma and other such interconnecting media—that made it possible for early modern authors to understand collectivities of persons as united in feeling. The chapters that follow include insightful readings of such affective community in unexpected textual places. These include what Davis calls King Lear’s “cosmomorphic” affinity between humans via celestial events; The Faerie Queene’s “common places” of received cultural knowledge (Alma’s castle, Busirane’s house); and The Winter’s Tale’s production of a shared audience experience. Unfortunately, the book’s discussions of the privatized or atomized self—in Donne’s melancholia, Leviathan’s anonymous individual subjects, and Bunyan’s appeals to individual readerly interpretation—are not as innovative.
Two other books on early modern affect, both major studies, similarly dwell upon the creation and upkeep of human community, and both challenge the lingering contention that the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw a univocal transition from the communal and sensual to the private and rational. While Seth Lobis’s fascinating The Virtue of Sympathy: Magic, Philosophy, and Literature in Seventeenth-Century England acknowledges a version of that transition, its explanation of how sympathy came to mean less a principle of cosmological unity and more a phenomenon of fellow feeling argues for a long-standing tension and interplay between these two conceptions. Sympathy may have lost some credence in the seventeenth century as a theory of the mystical attraction of physical matter across space, but it gained power as an analogy for human sociability; as the physical world loses its enchantment, the realm of human interaction picks it up. It is crucial, Lobis argues, that this transition and overlap occurred in the context of the torn social and political fabric of [End Page 192] the English nation during and after the Civil War. Thus Lobis finds the half-life of physical, cosmological sympathy at work in Margaret Cavendish’s debates with Hobbes over whether political and moral philosophy reflects a vitalist rather than a mechanistic universe, as well as in Milton’s ongoing consideration of how an affective theory of moral sympathy might prove humans’ salvation. Beginning his study with Kenelm Digby’s attempts to integrate a theory of cosmological sympathy within a mechanistic view of the universe, and ending with the Cambridge Platonists’ and the Earl of Shaftesbury’s views of sympathy as an anti-Epicurean, antimechanistic mystical bond uniting humans with each other and with the natural world, Lobis skillfully negotiates the Foucauldian dilemma of how continuity and rupture might coexist in time. So does Joe Moshenska’s encyclopedic Feeling Pleasures: The Sense of Touch in Renaissance England, in which the first part is concerned with how the English Reformation, far from discarding the sensual apperception of the divine, adapted late-medieval Catholicism’s ritualistic handling of objects to different kinds of touch: the reverent handling of the Bible, for example; or Thomas Cranmer’s and Lancelot Andrewes’s continued attachment, however ambivalent, to the sensual, physical dimension of the sacraments. After this relatively focused beginning, Moshenska studies an almost bewilderingly broad array of authors who query the value and limitations of tactility, as well as an astonishingly broad range of topics—everything from atomism to pulse-taking to tickling. Feeling Pleasures develops subtle accounts of the ambivalent status of touch in specific literary texts (especially The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost) and also makes a brilliant argument for touch as a major contributor to theories of perceiving, knowing, and social organization, not only in natural and political philosophy (Bacon, Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Hobbes, Margaret Cavendish, Robert Boyle, and more) but also in the visual arts and medicine.
Our last story of affective transition and its relation to the body is Peter J. Smith’s study of what he calls “shiterature,” Between Two Stools: Scatology and Its Representations in English Literature, Chaucer to Swift. Smith is rather too self-congratulatory about his marginalized topic, given that scatology in many of the authors he examines has been fairly well discussed, and the first half of the book, on Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Harington, simply argues for the significance—in various ways, and in various registers—of scatological and alimentary references. But the second half of the book, turning to the Restoration and eighteenth century, makes [End Page 193] an original argument that meshes with Lobis’s and Moshenska’s. Smith deftly reads the way that both John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester and Jonathan Swift deploy scatology in conjunction with a misogynist sexuality as a sign and symptom of a political decay that gives rise to misanthropy and self-loathing. Smith ultimately argues for a new Restoration affect that he might profitably have termed “feeling shitty”: the sense that, if our community is awry, we as individuals are to blame.
GLOBALISM AND TRANSNATIONALISM
Dominated largely by younger scholars who have recently taken up the topic, studies of globalism and transnationalism this year show a geographical and theoretical range that greatly expands the field. Ayesha Ramachandran’s The Worldmakers: Global Imagining in Early Modern Europe sets an important conceptual standard for future work by examining just how important and how difficult it was for early modern thinkers to imagine such a thing as “the globe” in the first place. Exploration, combined with the revival and revision of classical skepticism, made it clear to the early moderns not only that the world was not what it was thought to be, but also that the world was constructed through human imagination and representation. Starting with the relatively familiar assertion that mapmaking and atlas making by the likes of Gerardus Mercator were crucial to imagining the world as a whole, Ramachandran begins to tease out new directions when she discusses how mapmaking was analogized to divine omniscience and divine creation, a nexus of connections explored on the more skeptical side when Michel de Montaigne queries whether humans’ partial, contingent, constructed knowledge of the New World undermines any assurance that they could comprehend the divine. This tension and interplay between cosmography and theology informs Ramachandran’s thoughtful readings of how worldmaking in Luís de Camões and Spenser stretches the genre of epic beyond nation building into a vision of a transcendent global systemic order; how Descartes’s physics and metaphysics were informed by his displacement of God’s worldmaking role; and how Milton’s paralleling of divine creation with poetic creation in Paradise Lost cannily acknowledges divine precedence but also leaves current and future worldmaking to human minds and hands.
Working on the level not of the universe but of the nation and the transnational, two books argue for the importance of transcultural [End Page 194] exchange in early moderns’ conceptions of themselves. In Early Modern Catholics, Royalists, and Cosmopolitans: English Transnationalism and the Christian Commonwealth, Brian C. Lockey contends that Enlightenment cosmopolitanism had its roots in Tudor-Stuart religious schism, as exiled and/or persecuted Catholics sought an antidote to Protestant nationalism in the form of a transworld “Christian commonwealth.” Magisterial in its historical sweep (1560s–1670s) and its astonishing level of historical and bibliographic detail, Lockey’s study demonstrates in its first two-thirds how the worldwide papal supremacy promoted by Catholic objectors to the Elizabethan regime such as Edmund Campion and Robert Persons came to inform more secular visions of international engagement (Sidney) or universal human union (John Dee), even influencing the fiction writing of government loyalists (Harington) and ostensible anti-Catholics (Anthony Munday). Lockey’s reading of Sidney’s Arcadia and Spenser’s Faerie Queene is truly innovative: he finds both Sidney and Spenser to be advocates of a moral order beyond the rule of nations and beyond the powers of secular monarchs. The last third of the book deals with how these Catholic underpinnings may still be seen not only in Royalist visions of a European (if not quite universal) commonwealth, such as Richard Fanshawe’s translation of The Lusiads, but also, astonishingly, in Milton’s lifelong dreams of a transnational governing elite and Paradise Lost’s vision of Christianity surpassing territorial boundaries. At a certain point, however, one begins to wonder how exact Lockey can be about such assertions, since surely humanism more than Catholicism set Milton’s standards for transnational exchange. Humanist-style international networks of scholars and other elites are the substrate of the themes explored by the rather hodgepodge Early Modern Exchanges: Dialogues between Nations and Cultures, 1550–1750, edited by Helen Hackett. This essay collection’s vision of exchange is chiefly a linguistic one: topics include translators’ use of metaphors of trade and cultural exchange for their own activity (Brenda M. Hosington); a translation of Petrarch’s Triumph of Eternity possibly by Queen Elizabeth I (Alessandra Petrina); Thomas Campion’s use of classical Latin poetry (Gesine Manuwald); epistolary exchanges between Philip II of Spain and Mary I and Elizabeth I of England (Rayne Allinson and Geoffrey Parker); Thomas Smith’s adaptation and development of “foreign” Renaissance ideas for an English audience (Andrew Hadfield); and the interdependence of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s play The Trials of a Noble House and literature from Spain (Eavan O’Brien). [End Page 195] Other media and objects of exchange are also explored, however. Eva Johanna Holmberg discusses how the traveling companion acts as an exchange mechanism in seventeenth-century English texts about the Ottoman Empire; Tracey A. Sowerby describes portrait gifts as a medium of diplomatic exchange for Elizabeth I and James I; and Noah Millstone argues that the early Stuarts struggled with designing their own state-building after foreign examples.
Three new studies cover aspects of transnationality that have to do with specific authors or geographic areas. Goran Stanivukovic brings less-familiar texts into fascinating focus in Knights in Arms: Prose Romance, Masculinity, and Eastern Mediterranean Trade in Early Modern England, 1565–1655, which treats a number of prose romances in terms of both real issues of English trade with the Ottoman Empire and projective fantasies of the East. The pairing of material exchange and fantastic fiction is deliberate and well theorized: Stanivukovic accounts for these elements as delineating areas of “common interest” where “fictional and factual geography meet” (p. 10). The other project of Knights in Arms is to reclaim the early modern romance for male readers and for masculine identities and subjectivities. In the “romance of trade,” Stanivukovic argues, the knight errant becomes a figure of both mercantile expertise and male alliance. In Stanivukovic’s reading, romances about the Mediterranean become an extraordinarily capacious and generous place, fostering male affective (if not sexual) bonds and uninterested in exploiting foreign people and foreign lands so long as those people and lands submit to a trading relationship. Similarly, Mingjun Lu finds early modern English authors to have been changed in quite liberating fashion by their encounters with information about Chinese culture. Demonstrating that England pursued considerable Chinese trade beginning in the 1550s and that English authors had considerable access to descriptions of China written by merchants, missionaries, and other travelers, Lu’s The Chinese Impact upon English Renaissance Literature: A Globalization and Liberal Cosmopolitan Approach to Donne and Milton argues that the English were open to (if also shocked by) ways in which Chinese culture might be superior to their own. Like Lockey, Lu adopts the theoretical model of cosmopolitanism to describe this cultural contact. She argues, in surprising and innovative ways, for a Donne whose references to the East indicate a willingness to adapt English trade, manners, and even theology to a globalized world, and whose Essays in Divinity attempt to reconcile the timeline of Genesis with what Donne [End Page 196] was learning about Chinese chronology’s much longer historical record. Lu demonstrates that Milton, too, was engaged in these cross-cultural chronological debates, designing time in Paradise Lost so that it could admit any number of non-Christian timelines. Other claims Lu makes seem less defensible—for example, that Milton’s depiction of prelapsarian language owes something to the rare early modern linguist who proposed Chinese as an undiluted remnant of that original human speech. Still, Lu’s book should be taken quite seriously by scholars of the seventeenth century for its expansion of our sense of early modern globalism. Finally, while Cyrus Moore’s comparative study Love, War, and Classical Tradition in the Early Modern Transatlantic World: Alonso de Ercilla and Edmund Spenser makes no argument for the mutual influence of these two poets, and while his attempt to cover the theme of idealism vs. realpolitik in Spenser in a matter of seventy-five pages yields no new Spenserian readings, it is instructive nonetheless to understand how these two authors, contemporary to each other and living in some of the same circumstances (servants to a monarch, traveler to or inhabitant of colonial possessions), deal with epic projects and traditions.
ECONOMICS, POLITICS, AND THE NATION
If contemporary politics spark dissertation topics, ones that we see in print after a suitable lag time for writing and publication, then Brexit and the rise of Trumpism might lead us in upcoming years to expect a decline in first books on globalism and an uptick in studies of protonationalism, theories of business and trade, and xenophobia. This year, however, studies of economics and politics are dominated by more senior scholars. Among them is Henry S. Turner’s must-read book on political economy, The Corporate Commonwealth: Pluralism and Political Fictions in England, 1516–1651, which explores how the sixteenth century began to imagine the polis as a community comprising voluntary associations of individuals rather than as manifested in either the mystical or the natural singular person of the sovereign. While a book on this topic seems predestined to start with Thomas More and end with Hobbes—indeed, Turner’s final chapter is “Leviathan, Incorporated”—one of the many strengths of this study is that it takes us in unexpected directions in its exploration of the corporation as “group personhood” (p. 28). Turner is especially interested in how interlocking and sometimes competing ideas of what knits up the commonwealth—Parliament? the market [End Page 197] economy? common law?—intersect with different writers’ different treatments of mimesis, fictionality, and authorial style, and this insight leads him to sharp and subtle readings. To cite just a few: Thomas Smith writes De Republica Anglorum in a “middle style” between philosophy and history because he wishes to balance the homogenizing effect of the corporate state (as per philosophy’s universalism) with the plurality of the many institutions that make up the corporate state (as per history writing’s particularism). Richard Hakluyt’s massive collection Principal Navigations seeks through representational and narrative strategies to flatten all the material, human, and capital resources required and generated by joint-stock trade corporations into a single language of monetization. All of these precedents, plus the others analyzed by Turner (Hooker’s ecclesiastical polity, the corporate representational enterprise of the joint-stock theater company, and so on), encouraged Hobbes to imagine the state as a corporate enterprise that was necessarily based on fiction, but that was no less real for that.
Like Turner’s book, William J. Kennedy’s Petrarchism at Work: Contextual Economies in the Age of Shakespeare addresses the economic underpinnings of authorial work, but Kennedy is interested in the poet’s status as an independent contractor in addition to, or in tension with, being an incorporated member of a community. Kennedy’s masterful and detailed study interweaves early modern aesthetics, economic theory, book history, and the practices of patronage and entrepreneurship to argue that early modern Petrarchists evidence a developing sense of poetic vocation and poetic professionalism, whether it be the professionalism of a group (a coterie, school, or salon) or that of the sole practitioner. Kennedy begins by arguing that Petrarch’s manuscript revisions of his poems demonstrate his increasing attention to seeing his poetry as his own intellectual property. Subsequent chapters on Gaspara Stampa, Michelangelo, and Pierre de Ronsard follow this thread: to capitalize on the idea that poetry is an economic product with demonstrable use value, the poet must evince a sense of independent craftsmanship as well as be relatively comfortable with non-elite status and with getting ahead through labor and exchange. Most pertinent to this review is Kennedy’s brilliantly speculative, four-chapter long reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Kennedy posits that Shakespeare revised the Young Man sonnets in the wake of reading both Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella and Spenser’s Amoretti and Faerie Queene, as well as in the wake of learning enough Italian to read Petrarch. The result (among many [End Page 198] other things) is that Shakespeare, picking up cues from Petrarch, disparages previous poets’ failure to fully invest in the sonnet speaker as craftsman of value and as canny homo economicus.
This year’s books on politics and political forms exclusive (or nearly exclusive) of economic issues are a varied and interesting group. Two books on the development of ideas of liberty seem especially timely. In Ideas of Liberty in Early Modern Europe: From Machiavelli to Milton, Hilary Gatti turns a lifetime of scholarship on Giordano Bruno to new purposes in her argument that the long sixteenth century, as troubled as it was, developed the building blocks of both republican liberty and liberty of conscience that would later serve modern democracy. Synthetic rather than original in its research, Gatti’s book is valuable for the clear and graceful way she compares and contrasts the varieties of liberty propounded by Renaissance writers on a wide range of subjects; English writers (More, Hooker, Shakespeare, Bacon, and Milton) figure prominently. Her chapter on the various kinds of freedom of thought proposed by the new science is, not surprisingly, first rate. Robert Appelbaum’s evocatively written Terrorism before the Letter: Mythography and Political Violence in England, Scotland, and France, 1559–1642 invokes many of the same themes that Gatti does, since of course one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Appelbaum’s aim is not only to reconstruct the complexity of early modern terrorists’ aims and discourses before the term “terrorism” even existed, but also to query what such a reconstruction means for the genealogy of theories of action, personhood, character, and agency. The book describes narratives that air the fantasy of a terrorist act that, in either its heroism or its villainy, brings about justice and perpetual peace. But even those terrorist incidents that look semiotically and agentially clear in this fashion, like the Gunpowder Plot, turn out to be more like the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre(s)—unmotivated and scattered, their ends uncertain. Weaving among countries, incidents, and theorists, Appelbaum’s study offers only short readings of each literary text—with the English works including Gorboduc, The Massacre at Paris, William Painter’s Palace of Pleasure, Julius Caesar, The Revenger’s Tragedy, Bussy d’Ambois, The Duchess of Malfi, Milton’s “In quintum novembris,” and versions of the Samson story, among them one by Francis Quarles—but the accumulation proves his case that the muddled stakes of terrorism are integral to early moderns’ sense of selfhood, purpose, community, and freedom. [End Page 199]
It is too bad that Appelbaum did not have Anne James’s Poets, Players, and Preachers: Remembering the Gunpowder Plot in Seventeenth-Century England to hand, or vice versa, since James addresses many of the questions Appelbaum raises, although in a much more historicized fashion and with more extended attention to literary works. Like Appelbaum, James is interested in the mythmaking process that underpinned and perpetuated stories of the Gunpowder Plot throughout the seventeenth century. James’s focus, however, is on the way that the state tried and failed to develop a univocal providentialist narrative; her analysis demonstrates that voices outside the monarchical propaganda machine immediately began to develop their own uses for the Gunpowder Plot story. In an interesting and largely successful line of argument, James demonstrates the existence and significance of “Gunpowder epics,” some of which encomiate King James in Virgilian fashion but others of which (like Donne’s Ignatius His Conclave, to name the best known) divert epic into satire, a genre that tends to reflect ill upon the figures it claims to be celebrating. James’s best chapter follows the Gunpowder Plot epic from Milton’s “In quintum novembris” up through Paradise Lost by way of John Vicars’s subversive translation of Francis Herring’s Pietas Pontificia, arguing that this topic came to provide occasion for critiquing the monarchy and for converting the salvational epic into a wandering romance fitting for a nation that has lost its way. An even closer examination of the relationship between nationhood and literary form is provided by Kyle Pivetti’s Of Memory and Literary Form: Making the Early Modern English Nation. Pivetti adds to recent discussions of nationalism, memory, and antiquarianism the idea that literature’s affinities with mnemonics make it the ideal vehicle—indeed, the ideal engine—of historical memory. However, Pivetti’s discussions of Gorboduc, The Faerie Queene, Henry V, and Absalom and Achitophel ultimately follow a literary thematic more than they argue for something peculiar to theater or poetry that promotes a national mnemonic. A more focused exploration of the relation between literature and the nation—at least, the nation’s head—is provided by Jane Rickard’s Writing the Monarch in Jacobean England: Jonson, Donne, Shakespeare, and the Works of King James, which argues that King James’s writings gave the three other writers mentioned in her title both occasion and inspiration for literary experiment. Rickard knows King James’s corpus perhaps better than any other living scholar, and her sharp opening contention that King James’s writing is, for all intents and purposes, noncanonical upends our sense of [End Page 200] authority in a way that disrupts the typical treatment of his work as “context” against which authorial text works. While her readings of Jonson, Donne, and Shakespeare add considerable detail to the ongoing critical conversation about authorial response to the king, the real innovation of this book lies in Rickard’s groundbreaking treatment of the king’s lifelong engagement with literary and polemic texts. Seeing King James not only as an author on monarchy and witchcraft but also as a connoisseur of poetry, cultivator of preaching, and sponsor of humanist scholarship installs him directly in the kinds of literary networks that engage a number of the books addressed in this review.
ECOCRITICISM AND THE MATERIAL WORLD
This year’s books in ecocritical studies demonstrate how this subfield has expanded its range of topics and developed in theoretical sophistication. While some work, like Kevin De Ornellas’s The Horse in Early Modern English Culture: Bridled, Curbed, and Tamed, continues in the relatively well-worked vein of studying the early modern representation of this or that animal, topographical feature, or natural phenomenon, other studies interestingly morph Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s question about subalternity into a Latourian query about the nonhuman world’s ontological status: can the nonhuman act? One of two excellent essay collections published last year, Ecological Approaches to Early Modern English Texts: A Field Guide to Reading and Teaching, edited by Jennifer Munroe, Edward J. Geisweidt, and Lynne Bruckner, believes the answer is yes. The editors have a far more ambitious agenda than the volume’s modest handbook-type title would indicate. Borrowing from Donna Haraway, the introduction describes the volume as focusing on contact zones between human and nonhuman in which nonhuman entities are revealed to have agentic potential. Not every essay hews to that theme, it must be said. Two of the essays on nondramatic literature discuss how humans are analogized to the environment: Jessica Rosenberg’s brief but brilliant essay argues that Puttenham’s Art of English Poesy analogizes the poet to other practitioners of hands-on methods for increasing the “vertue” of natural bodies, the gardener and the physician; and Louise Noble demonstrates how Aemelia Lanyer’s analogizing of women with a degraded/decrepit environment betrays Cookham as anything but a feminine Utopia. But other pieces uphold the editors’ thesis about nonhuman agency. Rebecca Laroche reads Shakespeare’s Sonnets as, at times, demanding an encounter [End Page 201] with roses not as metaphors, but as ineluctably living plants; Amy Tigner interprets Jonson’s “To Penshurst” as an analysis of the material practice of agriculture that, ultimately, imbricates humans and the food they produce; and Leah S. Marcus turns to the topic of vitalism in Paradise Lost to argue that Milton imagines a postlapsarian earth that can volitionally regain prelapsarian perfection. The essays on pedagogical approaches to nondramatic literature have little to do with the nonhuman as agential but are inspirational nonetheless. Hillary Eklund guides her students through The Faerie Queene’s Bower of Bliss by comparing early modern discussions of agrarian land use to post-Hurricane Katrina discussions of urban land use in New Orleans. Mary (Mimi) C. Fenton helps her Milton students understand that in Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve’s spiritual well-being is inseparable from their reverence for and upkeep of the land they live in. In his classroom, Jeffrey Theis juxtaposes “Upon Appleton House” with Civil War-era allegorical depictions of various political figures as trees and plants—Charles I, for example, as royal oak—to show how Andrew Marvell connects political and ecological trauma. Echoing Robert N. Watson’s essay on his classroom explorations of early modern texts that already depict a struggle between environmentalism and capitalism, a suggestive afterword by Karen Raber makes no bones about the fact that early modernists seek through ecocriticism to discover the ancestry of current concerns in the past; but she also reminds teachers that our students, especially those from less populated areas, are not necessarily disconnected from nature in a way that much contemporary ecocriticism assumes.
Renaissance Posthumanism, edited by Joseph Campana and Scott Maisano, orients itself around this relation between past and present. Taking aim at studies of the posthuman that blame the Renaissance for inventing the split between human and nonhuman in the first place, Campana and Maisano credit humanism—or, at least, signal moments of humanism—for interrogating human exceptionalism in precisely the way that current theorists of the posthuman would have us do. Their discussion of Paradise Lost in the volume’s introduction is a playful, loose-limbed, theoretically astute model of the kind of investigation they suggest: Milton’s varied deliberations on whether human beings are or are not separate from beasts (on the one side) and angels (on the other) anticipate Haraway’s quarrel with Martin Heidegger on whether humans contemplate and experience Being/Dasein better when detached from the nonhuman or when interconnected with it. Their contention that humanists were fully cognizant, in [End Page 202] advance, of the central issues that came to inform studies of the posthuman is borne out admirably by many of the excellent essays in the volume, beginning with Kenneth Gouwens’s magisterial survey of the painful awareness of some humanists (especially Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Montaigne) of humanity’s shortcomings and their consequent critiques of anthropocentrism. Other essays focusing on humanist-inflected works that explicitly recognize the effort and cost exacted by distinguishing the human from the nonhuman include Stephen J. Campbell’s reading of a number of late paintings by Titian as dwelling upon and blurring the agonizing, mesmerizing, incomplete moment in which normative humanity comes to be differentiated from that which is monstrous, androgynous, or animal; and Judith Roof’s reading of Rabelais’s Gargantua as anarchically collapsing all anthropocentric orderings. Other essays are less squarely within the volume’s wheelhouse in that they either work with texts that are not particularly humanist in their allegiances (Erica Fudge’s study of human-livestock collaboration in animal-husbandry manuals) or seek to reveal human/nonhuman blurring of which the text is not aware (Holly Dugan’s study of late-medieval texts that have Alexander testing a “wildman’s” humanity by seeing whether he will rape a naked damsel). But I am quibbling. While these and other essays—Julian Yates’s wandering tour of humans metaphorized as sheep (and sheepskins) in More’s Utopia, Shakespeare’s 2 Henry VI, and the vellum-stocked early modern archive; Diane Wolfthal’s study of the resemblances between human sexuality and plant form in Abraham Bosse’s drawing of a mandrake; Vin Nardizzi’s fascinating discussion of wooden acting and the wooden early modern theater; and Lara Bovilsky’s analysis of Shakespeare’s portraying extreme emotion as mineral in origin—do not map perfectly onto the volume’s opening declaration of intent, they are unusually uniform in their quality, liveliness, and interest to the field.
Although not lengthy, Steve Mentz’s highly anticipated Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Globalization, 1550–1719 is perhaps the weightiest contribution to ecocritical studies this year in that it explicitly and inventively draws together a focus on human-nonhuman interaction and a focus on early modern nations’ global ambitions. The shipwreck, in Mentz’s view, is part of the very origin story of the epic mythos that informed early modern nationalist ambitions: as with Aeneas’s nautical misdirection toward Carthage, the early modern nation—and hence modernity itself—is founded on oceangoing disaster. Instead of describing [End Page 203] the contrast between truncated/wandering travels and teleologic arrival as the difference between romance and epic, Mentz thus describes it as the difference between wet and dry: the shipwreck that stalls empire, the salvation that enables it. Mentz accounts for human-nonhuman interaction on the sea not only in terms of the encounter between the human body and seawater, but also in terms of the “embodied technopoetics” of maritime labor (p. 81), an interplay of individual, community, materials, and tools that seeks, in the workings of a ship, to harness the watery element for stable ends. At times, Shipwreck Modernity has the flavor of gathering somewhat random texts on its nautical theme, but Mentz makes a striking case for viewing early modern Europe’s shipbound traversals of the globe as establishing a new genre: a poetics of the ocean that is on an equal footing with georgic and pastoral.
Including This Distracted Globe: Worldmaking in Early Modern Literature, edited by Marcie Frank, Jonathan Goldberg, and Karen Newman, in a discussion of ecocritical studies constitutes a bit of shoehorning. But this collection of high-quality essays, which grew out of a Festsprach for Goldberg, reflects and extends Goldberg’s recent interest in the relation between social and political theory and the material world in a way that ought to interest scholars who follow ecologically related criticism and theory. The volume’s pieces on nondramatic literature are especially relevant in this regard. Brett Dawson’s suggestive essay on material muck—specifically, slime—in The Faerie Queene’s House of Alma argues that Spenser’s frequent turns to the gooey, undifferentiated matter that is foundational to life and yet also toxic to life reflect both a longing and a fear that what living beings share is not a tendency to beautiful order but a tendency to monstrosity and de-individuation. Daniel Juan Gil makes quite the opposite case in his complex study of embodiment in poetic discourses of resurrection, arguing that for the monist and Paracelsian physician Henry Vaughn, the fact that body and soul die and rise together does not reduce humans’ lived experience to bodily matter or to the humoralist hydraulics of bodily fluid, but rather sets up a bifurcation between the historically and socially situated self that we know and feel in the here and now, and the seed of a physical life force that will come into full, knowable being only upon our resurrection. Lynn Maxwell’s piece also considers how poetry complicates what we believe to be received theories of early modern matter: in this case, the relation of the body as microcosm to the world/universe as macrocosm. The female body [End Page 204] in Donne problematizes this theory, Maxwell argues, sometimes making the female body inadequate to the macrocosmic analogy and sometimes making it more than the macrocosm can handle. Considering the social rather than the material body, Matz’s essay argues that the contingent community of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, where every declaration of individual authorship betrays a dependence on some literary source or some other complex relationship, is erased in the modern university’s valorization of the “super-subjectivity” of the job market or the showperson MOOC professor.
I might have called the last thematic category I discerned in this year’s collection of books “science and literature,” but I prefer to group these books under the heading of “knowledge studies,” which encompasses not just the way the physical and natural world is understood, but also how knowledge—including knowledge of the physical and natural world—is obtained and organized. To my mind, this grouping of books represents some of the most innovative work in the field, encompassing as it does cognitive science, epistemology, cultural and archival studies, and intellectual history.
Two such books address basic yet important questions of the relation between cognition and the literary, though from nearly opposite directions. While James Harmer proves himself perfectly conversant with cognitive science (as well as with philosophy of language) in his densely argued Renaissance Literature and Linguistic Creativity, he founds his argument in classical, scholastic, and humanist models of conceptual experience. Harmer argues very successfully that Spenser, Chapman, Donne, and Shakespeare cast considerable doubt upon humanism’s (relatively) stable depiction of introspection as the mind rationally observing and conversing with itself; these authors prefer a “roving … effortful self-inquiry” that acknowledges introspection’s epistemic difficulties (p. 123). Harmer’s recurring contention that, for these authors, the linguistic creativity that explores this introspective insufficiency is necessarily poetic is less successful, but this book is a significant contribution to recent work on the contours of pre-Cartesian Renaissance skepticism. In contrast, Donald Beecher’s Adapted Brains and Imaginary Worlds: Cognitive Science and the Literature of the Renaissance suffers from not being terribly well-grounded in either early modern theories of cognition or the [End Page 205] current critical conversation about cognition in early modern literature (neither Mary Thomas Crane nor Ellen Spolsky, for example, figures in his argument). However, Beecher’s application of evolutionary biology and contemporary cognitive science to early modern texts, among them works by Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, Spenser, Shakespeare, Petrarch, and Jonson, yields interesting readings that could jumpstart classroom discussion, especially in courses that seek to bridge science and literature. A third book about cognition, Daniel Derrin’s Rhetoric and the Familiar in Francis Bacon and John Donne, focuses more narrowly on the creation of mental images and on the inseparability of early modern faculty psychology from early modern rhetorical theory. Derrin’s contention is that Bacon’s enargetic rhetoric is designed to convey images of the world as rationally explicable, as per his natural philosophy, whereas Donne’s is designed to create social relationships and community ties. This is an argument that works better for Bacon, whose prose—no matter its topic—tends to discourage what he called “idols of the mind,” than it does for Donne, whose work discussed here (the verse letters, the Essays in Divinity, and the Holy Sonnets) is far more varied in audience and purpose.
A trio of blockbuster books from the University of Pennsylvania Press take up the topic not of the mind at work, but rather of what and how the early moderns chose to know—and thus, in turn, how we choose to know the early moderns. Wendy Wall’s Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen ought to join recent work on artisanship in changing forever how courses in early modern science are taught. Early modern England, she argues, was unusually devoted to the circulation and publication of recipes, a genre of writing that marked less the lived experience of a household and more an intellective, authorial space and process. While a great deal of the pleasure of reading this book derives from Wall’s extensive archival work, which yields marvelous images and equally marvelous analysis, the payoff of her argument especially emerges in the last several chapters, which put recipes in dialogue with literary works such as Shakespeare’s Sonnets and All’s Well that Ends Well: both recipes and literature develop a language of culinary seasoning and preservation as a way of slowing, managing, and mastering the passage of time. Wall makes a powerful case for including recipes in the history of empiricism and experiment. Elizabeth Yale’s Sociable Knowledge: Natural History and the Nation in Early Modern Britain makes an analogous argument for including in [End Page 206] the history of science the material history and culture of writing itself. Adding to previous historical work on how collectors and antiquarians developed new systems of knowledge, Yale grants to the notes, drawings, commonplace books, and letters of seventeenth-century naturalists and antiquaries the same kind of status that others have granted to such protoscientific practices as “cabinets of curiosities.” Yale’s particular focus is on how this work sometimes quite literally assembled a picture of the topography of Britain, and the hero of her tale is John Aubrey. But even those not interested in either Aubrey or the history of nationalism should read this book for its contribution to understanding how learned circles in seventeenth-century England worked by means of written (or drawn) collaboration, conversation, and assemblage. Unlike Wall’s and Yale’s, Traub’s project in Thinking Sex with the Early Moderns explicitly bridges early modern knowledge practice with our own. Traub’s subtle and multidirectional study begins with the postulate that sex is, in fact, difficult to know, both for the early moderns and for us; her first project is to interrogate the knowability agendas of both the historiographical method that has attempted to make early modern sex legible, and the “unhistoricist” trend in queer studies that has rejected historicist teleology as normative and compartmentalizing and thus as inimical to queerness. Traub seeks a third way: “a queer historicism dedicated to showing how categories, however mythic, phantasmic, and incoherent, came to be” (p. 81, emphasis in original). She thus maintains, throughout the volume, an intricate dual focus: on early modern literary moments in which sex, sexual inquiry, and sexual talk produce knowledge (or the absence of knowledge); and on modern critical readings whose insistence that they know early modern sex, either via history or via contemporary queerings, occludes how often knowledge is crafted only with difficulty, if at all. The chapter on sequentiality in Shakespeare’s Sonnets is a tour de force of this double vision, demonstrating how both the sonnets themselves and critics of the sonnets work out how literally to think of sex in terms of an exclusively masculine creative process.
INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS: STUDIES AND EDITIONS
Books on and editions of single nondramatic authors were, to put it bluntly, rather thin on the ground this year, with the signal exceptions of Donne and Shakespeare. This circumstance is not unusual, of course, as no dissertation director in her right mind [End Page 207] advises a student to produce a single-author dissertation these days; as a result, few of the volumes I discuss here represent first scholarly books. I discuss these books in, roughly, chronological order of their subjects’ lives and work.
John Skelton: The Career of an Early Tudor Poet adds literary biography to John Scattergood’s career-long work on this poet. While Scattergood does not blow either his own or Skelton’s horn loudly in this regard, he makes an implicit case for Skelton’s inaugurating or at least focusing many of the authorial gestures and obsessions that have been the concerns of critics of early modern literature for the past three or four decades: the author as servant to a patron vs. the author as self-fashioner; the insecurity of Court life; the stakes of writing in the vernacular; and the shakeup humanism instituted for both pedagogy and learning. Scattergood also accounts fully and compellingly for Skelton’s encyclopedic command of the insult and for his experimentations in generic mode. He does not, puzzlingly, address Skelton’s inventive style, except for a short afterword citing the critical disapprobation heaped upon him later in the sixteenth century.
This year brought some important and needed editions of sixteenth-century texts, as well as some useful scholarly aids. The introduction of William McGaw’s A Concordance to the Complete Poems of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517–1547), which is based on McGaw’s critical edition of Surrey of several years ago, refers to a similar concordance in process for Jason Powell’s two-volume edition of the works of Sir Thomas Wyatt, the superb first volume of which—The Complete Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, Volume I: Prose—appeared last year. Powell does not undertake a general introduction, but rather provides fairly lengthy introductions for the volume’s material, which includes The Quyete of Mynde, Wyatt’s letters of fatherly advice, his diplomatic correspondence, and documents relating to his treason trial. Variants and plentiful footnotes at the bottom of the page make this volume easy to use for scholarly purposes. Lady Anne Bacon’s An Apology or Answer in Defence of the Church of England, edited by Patricia Demers for the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) Tudor and Stuart Translations series, has a comprehensive and wonderfully clear introduction describing Bacon’s provocative and blunt style, her commitment to humanist rather than technical translation principles, and her motives for taking on a translation of John Jewel’s flash point Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae in the first place. For MHRA’s Critical Texts series, Zenón Luis-Martínez has edited Abraham Fraunce’s “The [End Page 208] Shepherds’ Logic” and Other Dialectical Writings. I am puzzled by this paperback volume’s large format, but glad for the opportunity it provides to teach how Ramist logic was popularized in England. Luis-Martínez’s introduction not only explains Ramism but also puts Fraunce’s project in dialogue with Spenser’s Shepheardes Calender. Peter C. Herman’s edition of Thomas Deloney’s Jack of Newbury is intended for the classroom, as indicated by its accessible introduction, but scholars will find it invaluable for its comprehensive, informative footnotes.
The year’s one book on Spenser is Spenser in the Moment, a collection edited by Paul J. Hecht and J. B. Lethbridge. Intended as an update to the New and Renewed Directions collection of Spenser scholarship Lethbridge edited a decade ago, Spenser in the Moment is notably varied: it features work by scholars from four countries, as well as “irreverent Spenseriana” poems (p. 155) by April Bernard and K. Silem Mohammad. It also features high-quality essays. Some take on old Spenserian topics in new ways. Syrithe Pugh examines how Spenser’s debt to Virgil was filtered through sixteenth-century commentary that, like scholarship today, identified Virgil’s skeptical and critical attitudes toward imperial Rome. Pugh’s appealing reading makes Spenser as smart a reader of Virgil as are contemporary classicists: Spenser draws his ambivalence toward the so-called Virgilian career from Virgil himself. Kathryn Walls argues that scholars who see Spenser as either breaking from or continuous with a medieval past have failed to notice that Spenser never exactly defines what he would mean as “medieval,” even if that nineteenth-century word had been available to him. Walls’s argument that Spenser saw really only two temporal breaks in the past—the Incarnation of Christ, and the Henrician Reformation—seems wacky but also rings somewhat true, as long as one avoids A View of the Present State of Ireland and stays focused primarily on The Faerie Queene, where history tends to have events but not beginnings. Others of the essays advocate for or demonstrate new approaches to Spenser. Elisabeth Chaghafi argues for unediting Spenser in a way that has not yet been done, and David Scott Wilson-Okamura argues for the importance of music in Spenser—singing as much as piping—whereas Gavin Alexander, contrariwise, contends that Spenser wrote poetry that was intentionally ill-suited to musical setting. Three final essays argue for major reorientation of our views of Spenserian aesthetics. Hecht, in what I would pick as my favorite essay in the volume, aligns Spenserian ornament—places in which aesthetic choices, to borrow from Jeff Dolven’s [End Page 209] insights, give the poem a break from moralizing or allegorizing—with queer Spenserian sex as Melissa Sanchez has described it: sex that is not useful for any larger purpose. To his provocative recently published argument that rhyme in The Faerie Queene is not meaningful and is designed to be ignored, Lethbridge adds the contention that Spenserian poetry is neither textured nor evocative—its syntax doesn’t matter, and its sentence structure shapes the verse as essentially paratactic. We read The Faerie Queene for its conceit, in Lethbridge’s view, not for its language. The problem with Lethbridge’s reading is that it leaves the poem no room for irony, an approach that I think will gain no traction in Spenser studies since it renders The Faerie Queene profoundly dull. Gordon Teskey’s essay on the experience of reading the poem, in contrast, reminds us that conceits in The Faerie Queene are profoundly (and pleasurably) difficult precisely because they can be doing two irreconcilable things at the same time.
Several books on Shakespeare that include significant discussions of his nondramatic poetry appeared last year. One is about Shakespeare and the phenomenon of print. Adam G. Hooks’s Selling Shakespeare: Biography, Bibliography, and the Book Trade proposes that we can tell a fuller story of Shakespeare’s life (or lives) via the printing of his work than through any other means. Or, more precisely, we can tell the story of Shakespeare’s life as it was created by those who had an interest in marketing Shakespeare in print. Hooks’s first chapter fascinatingly redirects the common tale about the publication of Venus and Adonis—that Shakespeare, promoting himself as an author, got his fellow Stratford-upon-Avon native Richard Field to print it—to a story about how Field and then his partner John Harrison (who printed The Rape of Lucrece) made Shakespeare’s fame over a course of a number of years and a number of reprints. Harrison’s intent was not just to sell Shakespeare, but to sell Shakespeare as part of the printer’s successful list of Ovidian love poetry. Another book about selling Shakespeare, Paul Franssen’s Shakespeare’s Literary Lives: The Author as Character in Fiction and Film, treats Shakespeare’s Nachleben. Franssen’s discussion of Oscar Wilde’s “Portrait of Mr. W. H.” includes a novel and interesting survey of how Wilde’s imagining of the homoerotic frustration behind the Sonnets prompted counterreadings in which Shakespeare suffered for frustrated love of the Dark Lady. The long tradition of reading the Sonnets biographically is carried on by Penny McCarthy’s Discovering the Hidden Figure of a Child in Shakespeare’s Sonnets as the Key to a New Interpretation: From Literary Analysis [End Page 210] to Historical Detection, which argues that the Sonnets volume is Shakespeare’s autobiographical story of his triangulated love for a fair young man and also a female relative of that young man; the latter bears Shakespeare a child. The reading is unlikely, and McCarthy’s decoding the young man as William Herbert (Mary Sidney’s son) and the Dark Lady as Mary Wroth (Mary Sidney’s niece) makes it hardly more plausible. But McCarthy gets at a theme that has been little discussed in regard to these sonnets: that is, the speaker’s emphasis on his own fathering/unfathering in tropes that are not accounted for by the idea that poems are children.
This year brings a wealth of volumes on John Donne. In addition to Derrin’s book on faculty psychology in Bacon and Donne, discussed above, two monographs enhance our understanding of Donne in his historical and intellectual context. Gregory Kneidel’s John Donne and Early Modern Legal Culture: The End of Equity in the “Satyres” is, as Kneidel’s introduction points out, only the second book ever published on the topic of Donne’s formal verse satires; it is also a significant addition to studies of early modern literature and the law. Kneidel, who takes Donne’s legal career much more seriously than most other Donneans do, uncovers a net of legal imagery having to do with inheritance law, consent to marriage, the right to sue, judicial bureaucracy, and so on that intersects with the satires’ mocking discourses about ethics, sexual desire, property, and the imagination. Not every Donne scholar will agree with Kneidel’s readings, but he sheds considerable new light on these knotty poems. Daniel Starza Smith’s John Donne and the Conway Papers: Patronage and Manuscript Circulation in the Early Seventeenth Century is necessarily partial in regard to Donne’s oeuvre, since Smith treats only those Donnean works that appear in or are connected to the archive he is working with. Indeed, as Smith points out in his introduction, more than half of the book is devoted to the Conway archive itself and how it illustrates social networks and the circulation of information in the early seventeenth century. After this extraordinary discussion of the Conway papers, insights about Donne and his friends are almost superfluous, but Smith goes on to use the archive to posit new and well-informed insights about the structure of literary patronage for Donne, the events surrounding work Donne produced in the years 1610–14, and Donne’s literary relationships with Henry Goodere and Jonson.
Major editions of Donne appeared in 2015, including two more volumes of The Oxford Edition of the Sermons of John Donne. [End Page 211] Volumes III and XII were previously published; we now have Volume I: Sermons Preached at the Jacobean Courts, 1615–1619, edited by Peter McCullough, and Volume V: Sermons Preached at Lincoln’s Inn, 1620–1623, edited by Katrin Ettenhuber. With introductions, footnotes for textual variants, and lengthy endnote commentaries taking up nearly half of each volume, this edition will be the one scholars use for decades to come, though the Potter and Simpson edition still has the advantage, in its online avatar at the Brigham Young University Library, of being searchable. Sorting the sermons by the setting in which they were delivered rather than by date has its advantages and disadvantages, of course, but studies of Donne’s audience will be enriched thereby. Despite its many strengths, Janel Mueller’s John Donne, edited for the 21st-Century Oxford Authors series, will be of use mostly to scholars and graduate students rather than in the typical undergraduate survey, I suspect. The spelling and punctuation are only very lightly modernized, and Mueller works from what she judges to be the versions of the texts closest to Donne’s hand—following, generally speaking, the principles of The Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne, but not always using the Variorum editors’ source texts. Thus she prints the lyric poems from the Westmoreland and Dowden manuscripts, for example. Undergraduate students might need to be well acquainted with editing principles—in a way outside the scope of a typical survey course—to use this edition proficiently.
Other work on seventeenth-century authors includes, first of all, a handbook and two editions. The Ben Jonson Encyclopedia, edited by D. Heyward Brock and Maria Palacas, updates Brock’s 1981 Ben Jonson Handbook and is keyed to the David Bevington (et al.) Cambridge edition. The principles for including an entry in this encyclopedia seem delightfully arbitrary at times: a page under the letter “N,” for example, includes entries for necessity and neighbors as well as Nemesis, Neptune, and Neptune’s Triumph for the Return of Albion. I warn prominent Jonson scholars not to look themselves up, because some of them merit entries in the text, whereas others are relegated only to the bibliography. The encyclopedia is, nonetheless, extremely useful for helping a scholar locate material in Jonson’s immense corpus. Stephen Greenblatt and Ramie Targoff have edited Thomas Browne’s “Religio Medici” and “Urne-Buriall” in a paperback edition that seems to be intended for the general public (notes are sparse and no editorial principles are elucidated) but that will also prove useful in the classroom. Sara H. Mendelson’s new edition of [End Page 212] Margaret Cavendish’s The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World, which builds upon Mendelson’s previous Cavendish edition Paper Bodies, will also be most welcome in the classroom, both for its thorough introduction and for its inclusion as appendices relevant companion texts, including Bacon’s New Atlantis, Aphra Behn’s preface to her translation of Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle’s Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes, and excerpts from Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies and William Cavendish’s Letters and Poems in Honour of … Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle.
Criticism on seventeenth-century authors this year includes some first-rate volumes. The Noble Flame of Katherine Philips: A Poetics of Culture, Politics, and Friendship, edited by David L. Orvis and Ryan Singh Paul, is the first book-length collection of essays on Philips, and it is a good inaugural. Orvis and Paul’s introduction is an invaluable survey of Philips criticism to date, and the essays that follow build upon what the editors have identified as major themes and questions of that criticism. What the editors do not make entirely transparent, however, is that four of the volume’s ten essays—by Catharine Gray, Elizabeth Hodgson, Traub, and Lorna Hutson—represent work published as far back as 2002. Among the six new essays are two that take up issues of form, genre, and style in relation to sexuality and sexual identity. Harriette Andreadis, revisiting issues launched by her own pioneering work on Philips, argues that Philips preceded Behn in turning pastoral into a form suitable for discussing female erotics as well as political turmoil; and Paula Loscocco advocates for seeing Philips as “Donne’s last and best heir and innovator” (p. 158) in that Philips’s “Lucasia” fully realizes the homoerotic discourse that Donne’s poetry left incomplete. The four remaining new essays put Philips in conversation with various aspects of her culture. Linda Phyllis Austern, analyzing Philips’s musical tropes, delineates a music-poetry partnership that was common in mid-seventeenth-century England; Christopher Orchard sees Philips’s “friendship poetry” as offering a narrative of heroic virtue alternative to failed Royalist campaigns; Orvis describes the complex and conflicting political loyalties indicated by Philips’s use of biblical exegesis, especially her rejection of millenarianism; and Amy Scott-Douglass reads Philips’s attempts to call in the pirated, unauthorized 1664 edition of her poems in relation to her poetry’s persistent iconolatry, both of them attempts to restore defaced images.
The year saw not one but two volumes on Thomas Traherne. The cheerful title of Elizabeth S. Dodd’s Boundless Innocence [End Page 213] in Thomas Traherne’s Poetic Theology: “Were All Men Wise and Innocent …” bespeaks Dodd’s thesis but belies the complexity and richness of her interpretation of the topic of innocence in Traherne’s work. Dodd tracks Traherne’s use of this theme via his four-stage view of human development in Commentaries of Heaven—innocence, misery, grace, and glory. Along the way, Dodd delineates the seventeenth century’s debates on the nature of Eden’s original innocence and humans’ fall from it, as well as the complexity of Traherne’s theological positions. Dodd’s reading of poetic and grammatical technique aids her case considerably; her discussions of Traherne’s use of the subjunctive and optative moods are especially absorbing. With Cassandra Gorman, Dodd edited this year’s volume of essays on Traherne, Thomas Traherne and Seventeenth-Century Thought, and her own essay in the collection is taken from her book. Other essays on Traherne’s divinity studies include Ana Elena González-Treviño’s fine piece on Traherne’s enmeshment in mid-seventeenth-century theories of happiness, and two complementary essays on Traherne’s recently discovered (1997) didactic poem based on Exodus, The Ceremonial Law: Warren Chernaik’s study of the poem’s typology, and Carol Ann Johnston’s interesting exploration of the poem’s possible sectarian leanings as contrary to the orthodox Anglicanism with which Traherne is usually associated. I find the remaining four essays especially compelling: they consider the topic of materiality in Traherne, reflecting the attention to the material world seen in other work in the field this year. Phoebe Dickerson’s treatment of skin and touch in Traherne argues that, counter to his culture, Traherne found the exteriors of bodies to be sufficient gateways to the divine. Kathryn Murphy puts Traherne in the context of the thing theory pertinent to the seventeenth century—that is, Aristotle and Bacon—to suggest that Traherne understood thoughts as more real than things, an idea that would have frustrated Bacon no end. Gorman’s essay outlines how Traherne’s views on atomism bucked the tide by considering atoms, in their unitariness and their eternity, to be aligned with Christian theories of the incorruptible soul. And Alison Kershaw analyzes how Traherne’s Christology describes the Savior in terms of a cosmic vitalism that embraces not only this world, but all possible worlds.
I close with a book on the author traditionally credited with closing the Renaissance. Stephen B. Dobranski’s splendid Milton’s Visual Imagination: Imagery in “Paradise Lost” draws upon the materialist turn in early modern studies, and specifically the vitalist turn in Milton studies, to confute an accusation prevalent since [End Page 214] the days of Samuel Johnson: that Paradise Lost’s visual imagery is impoverished. Dobranski’s purpose, however, is not simply to demonstrate that Milton’s imagery is vivid. Rather, he explicates the theological, cultural, and poetic import of the nature of visual imagery in Paradise Lost’s Heaven, Hell, and Eden. In a marvelous chapter on Heaven’s gates, for example, Dobranski demonstrates how Milton draws upon the marvelous machineries of theatrical entertainment to create an image of Heaven’s gates as wondrous and dynamic, rather than forbidding and immuring. Materiality’s other valences in Paradise Lost are explored in chapters that account for the fallen angels’ increasingly gross bodies as a fall into materiality, and that describe the visual images of Adam’s and Eve’s bodies and bodily contact as teetering between innocent prelapsarian love and the unfortunate postlapsarian visual impoverishment that they and their narrative will soon suffer. Moving beyond the issue of iconophobia/iconoclasm that has occupied studies of early modern Protestant authors for perhaps quite long enough, Dobranski finds a Milton whose visual ideology is also a tactile ideology, and for whom seeing can be believing. It is easy to put Dobranski’s book in dialogue with some of the other best work of the year described above, including, e.g., Mattison’s The Unimagined in the English Renaissance and Moshenska’s Feeling Pleasures. [End Page 215]
Katherine Eggert is Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is the author of Showing Like a Queen: Female Authority and Literary Experiment in Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton (2000), Disknowledge: Literature, Alchemy, and the End of Humanism in Renaissance England (2015), and articles on Spenser, Shakespeare, Jonson, Donne, early modern literature and science, and Shakespeare on film.