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"Re-writing" and the "Hermeneutic Attitude"
After Machiavelli is an examination of the triangular relationship of "re-writing"-a dynamic process encompassing both creative newness and awareness of historical profundity"-the "hermeneutic attitude:' and Machiavelli's poiesis. Specifically, it addresses four questions: First, to what degree can we speak of intersection (interaction) among this triad? Second, what common ground do all three actually share? Third, in what particular manner do the act of "re-writing" and the "hermeneutic attitude" manifest themselves in the writings of Niccoli Machiavelli? And last, what bearing does this have on the reader, heir to Machiavelli's literary legacy?
Dante and the Poets
While the structure and themes of the Divine Comedy are defined by the narrative of a spiritual pilgrimage guided by Christian truth, Winthrop Wetherbee’s remarkable new study reveals that Dante’s engagement with the great Latin poets Vergil, Ovid, Lucan, and Statius constitutes a second, complementary narrative centered on psychological and artistic self-discovery. This fresh, illuminating approach departs from the usual treatment of classical poets in Dante criticism, which assigns them a merely allegorical function. Their true importance to Dante’s project is much greater. As Wetherbee meticulously shows, Dante’s use of the poets is grounded in an astute understanding of their historical situation and a deeply sympathetic reading of their poetry. Dante may have been motivated to correct pagan thought and imagery, but more pervasive was his desire to recreate classical style and to restore classical auctoritas to his own times. Dante’s journey in the Commedia, beginning with the pilgrim’s assumption of a tragic view of the human condition, progresses with the great poetry of the classical past as an intrinsic component of—not just a foil to—the spiritual experience. Dante ultimately recognizes classical poetry as an essential means to his discovery of truth. A stunning contribution by one of the nation’s leading medievalists, Wetherbee’s investigation of the poem’s classicism makes possible an ethical and spiritual but non-Christian reading of Dante, one that will spur new research and become an indispensable tool for teaching the Commedia.
The Church of Solitude tells the story of Maria Concezione, a young Sardinian seamstress living with breast cancer at the cusp of the twentieth century. Overwhelmed by the shame of her diagnosis, she decides that no one can know what has happened to her, but the heavy burden of this secrecy changes her life in dramatic ways and almost causes the destruction of several people in her life. This surprising novel paints the portrait of a woman facing the unknown with courage, faith, and self-reliance, and is the last and most autobiographical work of Grazia Deledda, who died of breast cancer in 1936, shortly after its publication. An afterword by the translator offers additional information on the author and examines the social and historical environment of that time.
Theology as Poetry
In Dante's Commedia: Theology as Poetry, an international group of theologians and Dante scholars provide a uniquely rich set of perspectives focused on the relationship between theology and poetry in the Commedia. Examining Dante's treatment of questions of language, personhood, and the body; his engagement with the theological tradition he inherited; and the implications of his work for contemporary theology, the contributors argue for the close intersection of theology and poetry in the text as well as the importance of theology for Dante studies. Through discussion of issues ranging from Dante's use of imagery of the Church to the significance of the smile for his poetic project, the essayists offer convincing evidence that his theology is not what underlies his narrative poem, nor what is contained within it: it is instead fully integrated with its poetic and narrative texture. As the essays demonstrate, the Commedia is firmly rooted in the medieval tradition of reflection on the nature of theological language, while simultaneously presenting its readers with unprecedented, sustained poetic experimentation. Understood in this way, Dante emerges as one of the most original theological voices of the Middle Ages.
Women Warriors and the Medieval Imagination in the "Orlando furioso"
Genealogies of Fiction is a study of gender, dynastic politics, and intertextuality in medieval and Renaissance chivalric epic, focused on Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso. Relying on the direct study of manuscripts and incunabula, this project challenges the fixed distinction between medieval and early modern texts and reclaims medieval popular epic as a key source for the Furioso.Tracing the formation of the character of the warrior woman, from the amazon to Bradamante, the book analyzes the process of gender construction in early modern Italy. By reading the tension between the representations of women as fighters, lovers, and mothers, this study shows how the warrior woman is a symbolic center for the construction of legitimacy in the complex web of fears and expectations of the Northern Italian Renaissance court.
Vol. 23 (2005) through Vol. 26 (2008)
Italian Culture, the official publication of the American Association for Italian Studies (AAIS), is an annual refereed journal published by Michigan State University Press. Its interdisciplinary scope reflects the broad and diverse interests of the Association's members, offering subscribers scholarly articles in Italian language, linguistics, history, literature, cinema, politics, philosophy, folklore, popular culture, migration, and the influence of Italy on other cultures. It also includes articles in comparative literature and cultural studies.
Anti-Dantism, Metaphysics, Tradition
Since the beginnings of Italian vernacular literature, the nature of the relationship between Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) and his predecessor Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) has remained an open and endlessly fascinating question of both literary and cultural history. In this volume nine leading scholars of Italian medieval literature and culture address this question involving the two foundational figures of Italian literature. Through their collective reexamination of the question of who and what came between Petrarch and Dante in ideological, historiographical, and rhetorical terms, the authors explore the emergence of an anti-Dantean polemic in Petrarch's work. That stance has largely escaped scrutiny, thanks to a critical tradition that tends to minimize any suggestion of rivalry or incompatibility between them. The authors examine Petrarch's contentious and dismissive attitude toward the literary authority of his illustrious predecessor; the dramatic shift in theological and philosophical context that occurs from Dante to Petrarch; and their respective contributions as initiators of modern literary traditions in the vernacular. Petrarch's substantive ideological dissent from Dante clearly emerges, a dissent that casts in high relief the poets' radically divergent views of the relation between the human and the divine and of humans' capacity to bridge that gap.
Critical Essays on Dacia Maraini
One of contemporary Italy's best-known writers, Dacia Maraini has often been a figure of controversy as author and as cultural critic. Though she is recipient of numerous literary awards, Maraini's work has not received the sustained critical attention commensurable with its stature. Working and creating "dalla parte delle donne" (on the side of women), she had been effectively excluded from the Italian critical canon. The Pleasure of Writing is opened with Maraini's own analysis of women's writing. There follow 14 essays by an international group of Italianists, utilizing a wide spectrum of interpretive perspectives, form semiotics to psychoanalysis, to treat the full range of Maraini's production as novelist, playwright, poet, and filmmaker.
Metamorphoses of Historical Narrative in Modern Italian Fiction
Through an examination of nineteenth- and twentieth-century theoretical work and novels, Della Coletta presents an authoritatively original recasting of the notion of the historical novel. Starting with Alessandro Manzoni's classic essay "On the Historical Novel," she examines the aesthetic and philosophical questions surrounding the genre of historical fiction. Manzoni rejected the historical novel as a flawed combination of two contradictory systems: fiction and history. He also devised a new form of creative historiography that attempts to textualize the historical referent by using narrative techniques traditionally pertaining to the craft of fiction. Della Coletta then demonstrates how Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard, Elsa Morante's History: A Novel, and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose took up Manzoni's legacies, reshaped the genre, and embarked on a discussion of the meaning of writing within a specific literary genre. Transformative and revisionist, these novels overcome Manzoni’s philosophical impasse by arguing that both fiction and history exploit the forms of narrative to lend a comprehensible structure to the historical past. They thus become self-conscious evaluations of the ideological, aesthetic, and epistemological values of their narrative discourses. Della Coletta’s analysis of these novels suggests that genres are ideological units molded by culture and history, and that current ideologies shape the literary representation of the historical past. This innovative case study thus illuminates not just the twentieth-century Italian historical novel but also the function of literary genres as a whole.
Women's Writing in Counter-Reformation Italy
In her award-winning, critically acclaimed Women’s Writing in Italy, 1400–1650, Virginia Cox chronicles the history of women writers in early modern Italy—who they were, what they wrote, where they fit in society, and how their status changed during this period. In this book, Cox examines more closely one particular moment in this history, in many ways the most remarkable for the richness and range of women’s literary output. A widespread critical notion sees Italian women’s writing as a phenomenon specific to the peculiar literary environment of the mid-sixteenth century, and most scholars assume that a reactionary movement such as the Counter-Reformation was unlikely to spur its development. Cox argues otherwise, showing that women’s writing flourished in the period following 1560, reaching beyond the customary "feminine" genres of lyric, poetry, and letters to experiment with pastoral drama, chivalric romance, tragedy, and epic. There were few widely practiced genres in this eclectic phase of Italian literature to which women did not turn their hand. Organized by genre, and including translations of all excerpts from primary texts, this comprehensive and engaging volume provides students and scholars with an invaluable resource as interest in these exceptional writers grows. In addition to familiar, secular works by authors such as Isabella Andreini, Moderata Fonte, and Lucrezia Marinella, Cox also discusses important writings that have largely escaped critical interest, including Fonte’s and Marinella’s vivid religious narratives, an unfinished Amazonian epic by Maddalena Salvetti, and the startlingly fresh autobiographical lyrics of Francesca Turina Bufalini. Juxtaposing religious and secular writings by women and tracing their relationship to the male-authored literature of the period, often surprisingly affirmative in its attitudes toward women, Cox reveals a new and provocative vision of the Italian Counter-Reformation as a period far less uniformly repressive of women than is commonly assumed. Praise for Women’s Writing in Italy, 1400–1650 "Exhaustive and insightful . . . This is an amazing book, a major achievement in the field of women's studies."—Renaissance Quarterly "This is a definitive study and will surely remain so for many years to come."—Choice "Virginia Cox has written a magisterial study of the major trends in women's writing in Renaissance and Counter-Reformation Italy . . . This is indeed an impressive volume and one which deserves to be read and studied. It will change the way we think about women's writing in early modern Italy."—Modern Language Review