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Renaissance Beasts

Of Animals, Humans, and Other Wonderful Creatures

Erica Fudge

Publication Year: 2004

Animals, as Levi-Strauss wrote, are good to think with. This collection addresses and reassesses the variety of ways in which animals were used and thought about in Renaissance culture, challenging contemporary as well as historic views of the boundaries and hierarchies humans presume the natural world to contain._x000B__x000B_Taking as its starting point the popularity of speaking animals in sixteenth-century literature and ending with the decline of the imperial Menagerie during the French Revolution, Renaissance Beasts uses the lens of human-animal relationships to view issues as diverse as human status and power, diet, civilization and the political life, religion and anthropocentrism, spectacle and entertainment, language, science and skepticism, and domestic and courtly cultures._x000B__x000B_Within these pages scholars from a variety of disciplines discuss numerous kinds of texts--literary, dramatic, philosophical, religious, political--by writers including Calvin, Montaigne, Sidney, Shakespeare, Descartes, Boyle, and Locke. Through analysis of these and other writers, Renaissance Beasts uncovers new and arresting interpretations of Renaissance culture and the broader social assumptions glimpsed through views on matters such as pet ownership and meat consumption._x000B__x000B_Renaissance Beasts is certainly about animals, but of the many species discussed, it is ultimately humankind that comes under the greatest scrutiny._x000B__x000B_

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

Any collection of essays is, by necessity, a collaborative enterprise, and I would like first of all to thank the contributors for their work. It has been a real pleasure bringing these essays together.Help has also come from Lawrence Normand, Patricia Parker, Jonathan...

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pp. 1-18

In 1634 William Prynne was called before the Star Chamber for “writing and publishinge a scandalous and a libellous Booke againste the State, the Kinge, and all his people.” The book, Histrio-Mastix, was “condempneth . . . to bee in a most ignominyous...

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1. Unpicking the Seam: Talking Animals and Reader Pleasure in Early Modern Satire

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pp. 19-36

Whether they are apocalyptically angry or merely scornful, satires can be recognized by the nature of their engagement with readers. They work toward constructing an alliance between the satirist and the like-minded reader, distancing the reader from the target under scrutiny. Regardless of the seriousness of the...

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2. "Bitches and Queens": Pets and Perversion at the Court of France's Henri III

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pp. 37-49

Desire and the beast intersect in myriad and suggestive ways, to the point of becoming figures for each other: not only is desire metaphorized as beastly, but the beast is also represented as an emblem of desire, especially forbidden or perverse...

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3. Hairy on the Inside: Metamorphosis and Civility in English Werewolf Texts

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pp. 50-69

“Her feet were bare: her body was covered with rags and skins: her hair with a gourd leaf; and her face and hands were of the same colour as a negroe’s. . . . Those who saw her first, run away, crying out, ‘There is the devil.’ And indeed her dress...

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4. Saying Nothing Concerning the Same: On Dominion, Purity, and Meat in Early Modern England

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pp. 70-86

If bear-baiting is the most spectacular display of human dominion over animals in England in the early modern period, then the dinner plate might be figured as the least dramatic. The meal is a place where humans interact with animals on...

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5. "Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, and thou no breath at all?" Shakespeare's Animations

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pp. 87-100

When I first read Stephen Greenblatt’s essay “Shakespeare and the Exorcists” in the mid-1980s, my eye was caught by his discussion of Samuel Harsnett’s use of the word corky in his A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures: “It would...

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6. Government by Beagel: The Impersonal Rule of James VI and I

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pp. 101-115

To James VI and I, his principal secretary and later lord treasurer Sir Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, was almost invariably “my little beagle.”1 Thirty-five surviving letters from king to minister open with the greeting,2 and in them James elaborated on the...

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7. Reading, Writing, and Riding Horses in Early Modern England: James Shirley's Hyde Park (1632) and Gervase Markham's Cavelarice (1607)

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pp. 116-137

Thinking about animals-—animal-human relationships, animals and culture— draws me back again and again to John Berger’s “Why Look at Animals?,” which begins with his claim that the “19th century, in western Europe and North America, saw the beginning of a process . . . by which every tradition which has previously...

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8. "Can ye not tell a man from a marmoset?" Apes and Others on the Early Modern Stage

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pp. 165-185

In the “Induction” to Marston’s Antonio and Mellida (1600) the boy actors debate their upcoming roles in a scene suffused with anxiety about identity, sexuality, and, ultimately, the effects of playing. The boy playing Antonio (who later dresses...

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9. Pliny's Literate Elephant and the Idea of Animal Language in Renaissance Thought

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pp. 186-207

In his catalog of “vulgar errors” committed by natural historians concerning the behavior of animals, Sir Thomas Browne entertained with special relish the odd tale of an elephant that had been taught to speak and write. It is a paradox he...

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10. Reading Vital Signs: Animals and the Experimental Philosophy

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pp. 208-232

Nicolas Malebranche’s striking denial of animal sentience often is regarded as an apposite illustration of the general principle that there is no claim so foolish that some philosopher or other has not argued for it. The position set out here by Malebranche...

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11. The Menagerie and the Labyrinthe: Animals at Versailles, 1662-1792

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pp. 233-236

The Ménagerie of Versailles, built by Louis Le Vau between 1662 and 1664, was one of the first structures to be completed as part of Louis XIV’s vast domain of parks, fountains, buildings, and monuments. An extravagant display of magnificence...


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pp. 233-235


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pp. 237-246

E-ISBN-13: 9780252091339
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252028809

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2004

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Subject Headings

  • Animals and civilization -- Europe -- History -- 16th century.
  • Animals and civilization -- Europe -- History -- 17th century.
  • Animals (Philosophy) -- Europe -- History -- 16th century.
  • Animals (Philosophy) -- Europe -- History -- 17th century.
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