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Poiesis and Modernity in the Old and New Worlds

Anthony J. Cascardi

Publication Year: 2012

This broadranging exploration argues that there was a special preoccupation with the nature and limits of poetry in early modern Spain and Europe, as well as especially vigorous poetic activity in this period. Contrary to what one might read in Hegel, the "prosification" of the world has remained an unfinished affair.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Series: Hispanic Issues


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pp. c-ii

Title Page

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pp. iii-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

The essays gathered in this volume respond to a single set of questions: how are we to understand poiesis in the early modern age, and how especially are we to understand poiesis in relation to the literature of early modern Spain and its larger European context? In posing these questions, however, we approach...

I. Poiesis on the Threshold of Modernity

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1. Poiesis and Modernity at the Turn of the Spanish Sixteenth Century: Luis Alfonso de Carvallo and the Cisne de Apolo (1602)

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pp. 3-18

The emergence of European modernity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is often discussed in terms of a secularization or “prosification” of the world. According to the narrative often recounted by moderns, in a pre-modern order the universe is conceived of in allegorical terms, as a complex system...

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2. "Orphic Fictions": Poesia and Poiesis in Cervantes

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pp. 19-42

My title carries a double meaning that bears some explaining at the outset, both on account of the notion of “Orphic fictions,” as well as for the association of the Orpheus myth with the subjects of poiesis and poesía. By laying stress on the fictionality of the Orpheus myth (Orphic fictions), I mean to be mindful of the demythologizing inclination so prevalent in the early modern age; i.e.,...

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3. Spiders and Flies: Imagining "The World" in Early Modern European Natural Philosophy

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pp. 43-66

A key development of the European seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is the emergence of philosophy as an autonomous discipline. Beginning especially with Descartes, philosophy not only makes a definitive break with theology but usurps the latter’s place as Queen of the Sciences, that one before whose sovereign tribunal all others are summoned in judgment. In the process, the...

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4. Encyclopedism, Poiesis, and Modernity

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pp. 67-86

Encyclopedism is a staple of poiesis in any period that perceives itself as modern.1 Given that “modernity” involves intellectual thresholds exceeding what has come before, it is not surprising that such times seek to document the breadth and newness of their “thought experiments.”2 Modernity is that...

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5. From the Bibliotheca to the Garden and the Graveyard: Origins of the Poiesis of the Fantastic in Late Sixteenth-Century Miscellanea

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pp. 87-114

A few years ago, Lina Rodríguez Cacho drew a suggestive picture of the trajectory of sixteenth-century miscellanea, from the early Silva de varia lección by Pedro Mexía, first published in 1540, to Antonio de Torquemada’s Jardín de flores curiosas (1570), to Julián de Medrano’s La silva curiosa (1583), and...

II. Case Studies: Poesia and Poiesis

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6. Writing Religion: Sacromonte and the Literary Conventions of Orthodoxy

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pp. 117-138

On September 28, 1682, after nearly one hundred years of polemical debate, Pope Innocent XI rejected the authenticity of the Sacromonte lead tablets, unequivocally declaring them “pure human fictions, fabricated for the ruin of the Catholic faith.”1 Laborers, children, and treasure hunters had discovered these...

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7. Scrutinizing Early Modern Warfare in Latin Hexameters: The Austrias Carmen of Joannes Latinus (Juan Latino)

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pp. 139-158

The Battle of Lepanto remains a banner event in the dawning modern era whose cultural implications we have yet to fully explore.1 Impelled by the crusading spirit of Pope Pius V and fears of Ottoman expansion, Spain, Venice, and the papacy set aside their differences to form the Holy League Alliance. This coalition of Western powers achieved a decisive and unexpected victory...

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8. Ribera's Sagradas poesias as Poiesis of Modernity in Colonial Potosi

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pp. 159-178

The fate of the literary work of Luis de Ribera (?–1623) is somehow ironic. Critics regularly praise his poetry, though too often repeating what Menéndez y Pelayo said of him: that Ribera is a great but forgotten poet of the Spanish Golden Age.1 Indeed, forgotten he was. Until 2009, the only complete edition...

III. English and European Contexts

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9. "A Super-Political Concernment": Evolution and Revolution of Inward Light from Juan de Valdes to John Locke

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pp. 181-200

The presence of Juan de Valdés in English culture remains a marginal topic appealing only to George Herbert scholars. Their attention, moreover, is confined to theological intricacies largely inherited from early Reformation scholarship. To be sure, the true measure of Valdés’s heterodoxy is a vexed question that remains still unresolved.2 Historians often reduce the debate to a matter...

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10. Failed New World Epics in Baroque Italy

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pp. 201-224

In the first half of the seventeenth century, more than one hundred years after the European encounter with the so-called New World, and when the epic genre was falling decidedly out of favor, several Italian authors tried their hand at writing a heroic poem about Columbus’s explorations. The poems include...

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11. How to Reconquer Poiesis? Florian's Gonzalve de Cordoue, ou Grenade reconquise (1791)

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pp. 225-256

The newly drawn tree of knowledge in D’Alembert and Diderot’s Encyclopédie raisonnée des sciences, des arts et des techniques (1751–1772) divided human understanding into three realms, Memory, Reason, and Imagination, leading to three branches of knowledge, History, Philosophy, and Poetry, respectively....

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12. The Opacity of Language and the Transparency of Being: On Gongora's Poetics

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pp. 257-272

We know something in the United States about culture wars. Yet the logic of “our” culture wars, in which self-described conservatives and liberals battle it out over what defines a U.S. national identity, strangely mimics that of an earlier period, when the world’s great, albeit fading, superpower was Spain. This paper is about one voice in the culture wars of baroque Spain, a culture...

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13. Sense and Equivalence in Gongora and the Spanish Mystics: A Credit Crisis

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pp. 273-290

When Góngora—but maybe it is the dictating Muse, or maybe the grieving serrano who lost a son to the sea—sends Magellan around the world on “a glorious pine” (as in “zodiaco después fue cristalino / a glorioso pino”), or has life itself depend on “a piece of lumber” (as in “su camino / fió y su vida a un...

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pp. 291-302

Akin to Baltasar Gracián’s baroque definition of “conceit,” the terms poiesis and modernity compel the reader to consider difficult and surprising relationships between ideas and intellectual practices not immediately collapsible into a single meaning.1 If the notion of poiesis directs the inquiring gaze toward an...


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pp. 303-306


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pp. 307-316

E-ISBN-13: 9780826518361
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826518347

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Hispanic Issues