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Renaissance Tropologies

The Cultural Imagination of Early Modern England

Edited by Jeanne Shami

Publication Year: 2008

Tropes provide access into habits of thought and worldviews—they express a climate of opinion and a hermeneutical context. Focusing on the textual activity of major cultural tropes, this study demonstrates the ways in which they enunciate and transform the cultural imagination on matters of love and power in the world, the body politic, and the rising sphere of personal life in early modern England. In 12 essays, prominent Renaissance scholars extend the theoretical analysis and application of the four tropes identified by Gale Carrithers and James Hardy: theater, moment, journey, and ambassadorship.

Renaissance tropologies and habits of thought are here demonstrated through exegesis of the works of Shakespeare, Vaughan, and especially John Donne, whose writings, because they explore the most provocative issues of his day, are a lens through which one can understand the surrounding culture. The text itself is organized around the four tropes, and their cross-disciplinary approach to cultural phenomenon is part of the move toward a more fully historicized rhetorical analysis of texts.

Published by: Duquesne University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This volume was inspired by the work of Gale Carrithers Jr., a Renaissance man whose career and life epitomized the ideals of a liberal arts education. It would not have been possible without the commitment of Bainard Cowan, Gale’s colleague at Louisiana State University, who first proposed the volume and solicited some of the essays, and I extend my deepest thanks to him. When I agreed to carry the project forward and engaged the authors whose work appears between these covers, I was heartened by their willingness to contribute, and I thank them for their engagement with Gale’s work and their advancement of his intellectual project. Their contributions bear witness to the success of Gale’s primary goal of fostering intellectual community....

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Introduction: Renaissance Tropologies

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pp. 1-20

The essays in this volume focus on the textual activity of major cultural tropes that enunciate and transform the cultural imagination on matters of love and power in the world, the body politic, and the rising sphere of personal life in early modern England. The inspiration for such discussion of Renaissance tropologies can be found in the scholarship of Gale H. Carrithers Jr. and James D. Hardy Jr. In their last published volume, Age of Iron: English Renaissance Tropologies of Love and Power ...

Theater

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pp. 21-

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Chapter 1. Rex Absconditus: Justice, Presence, and Legitimacy in Measure for Measure

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pp. 23-41

An Elizabethan audience hearing Isabella’s cry to the duke in Measure for Measure for “justice, justice, justice, justice” (5.1.26) would have instantly understood that her anguished plea had invoked royalty’s primal, eldest obligation and their subjects’ constant concern. Giving substance within the civitas terrena to a duty sent from heaven required sovereignty’s every resource of royal grace, especially graces asked from God in the ceremonies of coronation. Uniting the...

Moment

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pp. 43-

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Chapter 2. Salvific Moments in John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

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pp. 45-62

Of the four dominant tropes treated by Gale Carrithers and James Hardy, it is moment — “the defining (ideally the salvific) moment of illumination or choice” — that primarily informs their reading of John Donne’s sermons.1 “The tropic moment in particular and time in general have been especially scanted in previous...

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Chapter 3. Donne and the State of Exception

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pp. 63-88

In his 1926 Clark Lecture on “The Metaphysical Conceit,” T. S. Eliot calls John Donne “the great ruler of that borderland of fading and change.”1 As Eliot sees it, Donne rules this borderland according to his metaphysical method, by which he first pursues “the meaning of the idea, letting it flow into the usual sequence of thought...

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4. Troping Religious Identity: Circumcision and Transubstantiation in Donne’s Sermons

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pp. 89-117

This essay will uncover Donne’s rhetorical moves in turning public matters of ecclesiastical doctrine and ritual into personal matters of spirituality and sanctification by deploying “circumcision” and “transubstantiation” —controversial terms fundamental to the religious identities of Jews, on the one hand, and Roman Catholics, on the other —as tropes. This use of tropes...

Journey

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pp. 119-

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5. Vaughan’s Life of Paulinus: Recharting the Royalist Journey

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pp. 121-141

If the English Renaissance represented for many a tarnished time far removed from an Ovidian golden age, as Gale Carrithers Jr. and James Hardy Jr. suggest, one can only imagine what the years immediately following Charles I’s execution represented for royalists: an age of iron, indeed. Perhaps it is unsurprising that, given...

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6. Journey and Ambassadorship in the Marriage Literature for Mary Tudor (1496–1533)

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pp. 143-165

In Age of Iron, Gale Carrithers and James Hardy outline four tropes central to understanding the relations between Renaissance literature and culture. Carrithers and Hardy mean something quite distinctive by “tropes.” In their view, “tropes,” like Debora Shuger’s “habits of thought,” link literary and historical materials. They are...

Ambassadorship

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pp. 167-

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7. Eucharistic Semiotics and the Representational Formulas of Donne’s Ambassadors

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pp. 169-185

In the verse epistle “To Mr Tilman after he had taken orders,” John Donne praises the priest as an “Embassadour to God and destinie.” 1 He is the ultimate mediator, able to “Bring man to heaven, and heaven againe to man” (48). Donne’s metaphorical ambassador helps to clarify the verse epistle’s central focus: representation. The poem is...

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8. Donne and Diplomacy

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pp. 187-216

This essay presents evidence of John Donne’s long-standing interest in foreign affairs and considers its significance to his poetry and prose. In particular, internal evidence from Donne’s sermons suggests the distinct contribution made to Donne’s homiletic tact by his close knowledge of the protocols, principles, and rhetoric of international diplomacy —enriched by first-hand experience as chaplain to Viscount Doncaster’s 1619 embassy to Germany. Such evidence...

Tropology and Habits of Thought

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pp. 217-

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9. Dangerous Liaisons: “Spider Love” in John Donne’s “Twicknam Garden”

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pp. 219-228

John Donne’s “Twicknam Garden” uses one of the most striking phrases in amorous verse, “spider love” (line 6).1 To gloss this phrase, editors and commentators echo a view held widely from the medieval and early modern eras: that spiders transform all that they consume into poison, which they then impart to their victims. Using this frame of reference

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10. Mirror Tropes and Renaissance Poetry

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pp. 229-253

The mirror was one of the most universal tropes, in all genres, from thirteenth to mid-seventeenth century England; it provided an analogy or symbol for virtually everything under and above the sun: time and eternity, nature and art, truth and subjectivity, earth and heaven, man and God. The preoccupation, nay obsession, with...

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11. The Ars Longa Trope in a Sublunary World

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pp. 255-280

“Not marble nor the gilded monuments / Of princes shall outlive this pow'rful rhyme.” 1 Immortality through immortal art is surely a trope that defines the Renaissance in the popular imagination. Ben Jonson takes it up in his tribute to Shakespeare, declaring, “[thou] art alive still, while thy book doth live.” 2 It seems reasonable

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12. Habits of Thought, Structures of Feeling

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pp. 281-307

In their exploration of the “general cultural horizon” in Renaissance England, Gale Carrithers and James Hardy Jr. embrace “habits of thought” over the “taxonomic spatiality” of a world-view. For Carrithers and Hardy, the concept “habits of thought” captures the “changing and semipermeable boundaries between high literacy...

Notes

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pp. 309-363

Publications of Gale H. Carrithers Jr.

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pp. 365-366

About the Contributors

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pp. 367-370

Index

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pp. 371-382


E-ISBN-13: 9780820705095
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820704098

Page Count: 392
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies
Series Editor Byline: Albert C. Labriola

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • England -- Civilization -- 17th century.
  • England -- Civilization -- 16th century.
  • English literature -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism.
  • Language and culture -- England -- History -- 17th century.
  • Literature and history -- England -- History -- 16th century.
  • Rhetoric, Renaissance -- England.
  • Figures of speech in literature.
  • Literature and history -- England -- History -- 17th century.
  • Language and culture -- England -- History -- 16th century.
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