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In this short, illuminating and very readable work, Philippe Nemo argues that what we call “the West” is one and only one cultural entity, to which both North America and Western Europe belong. In contemporary debates, then, Nemo asserts, it is simply incorrect to exaggerate the differences or gaps between countries that are indeed “Western.” Brilliantly and succinctly surveying the last five or six millenia, Nemo pieces together the history of the West’s development. He weaves together political events, philosophical discoveries, religious movements, and scientific and technological innovations to demonstrate the factors that have influenced and shaped Western culture. Nemo acknowledges the essential contributions of Greek science and philosophy, Roman law, Christian thought, and modern democratic revolutions to our contemporary liberal democracies. In his conclusion, Nemo presents a case for closer geopolitical cooperation among Western societies. Already translated from the original French into Portuguese, Italian, German and Greek, What is the West? has received considerable interest throughout Europe; earlier this year, in fact, it received the Italian Citte della Rose prize for essays. Now available for the first time in English, this book is essential reading for those interested in contemporary cultural debates on Western culture, nationhood and American values, as well as those interested in world history and politics, philosophy and religion, and contemporary global politics. Not geared to specifically conservative or liberal viewpoints but to an accurate rendering of historical ideas and trends, Nemo’s book should do much to advance our understanding of each other in an increasingly global community.
Rhetoric and the Poetry of Pembroke, Wroth, and Lanyer
Rhetorically analyzing their verse within a gender-inclusive context, Women Writing of Divinest Things broadens our understanding of Renaissance women’s poetry in literary history. Scholars have long recognized that the culture of early modern England was deeply informed by rhetorical habits of speech and thought, yet until now there has been no full-length study of the role rhetoric played in poetry by women of the period. Women Writing of Divinest Things addresses this gap.
A Sylvan Pastoral Nation
In Writing the Forest in Early Modern England: A Sylvan Pastoral Nation, Jeffrey S. Theis focuses on pastoral literature in early modern England as an emerging form of nature writing. In particular, Theis analyzes what happens when pastoral writing is set in forests — what he terms “sylvan pastoral.”
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, forests and woodlands played an instrumental role in the formation of individual and national identities in England. Although environmentalism as we know it did not yet exist, persistent fears of timber shortages led to a larger anxiety about the status of forests. Perhaps more important, forests were dynamic and contested sites of largely undeveloped spaces where the poor would migrate in a time of rising population when land became scarce. And in addition to being a place where the poor would go, the forest also was a playground for monarchs and aristocrats where they indulged in the symbolically rich sport of hunting. Conventional pastoral literature, then, transforms when writers use it to represent and define forests and the multiple ways in which English society saw these places. In exploring these themes, authors expose national concerns regarding deforestation and forest law and present views relating to land ownership, nationhood, and the individual’s relationship to nature. Of particular interest are the ways in which cultures turn confusing spaces into known places and how this process is shaped by nature, history, gender, and class.
Theis examines the playing out of these issues in familiar works by Shakespeare, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and As You Like It, Andrew Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House,” John Milton’s Mask and Paradise Lost, as well as in lesser known prose works of the English Revolution, such as James Howell’s Dendrologia>/i> and John Evelyn’s Sylva. As a unique ecocritical study of forests in early modern English literature, Writing the Forest makes an important contribution to the growing field of the history of environmentalism, and will be of interest to those working in literary and cultural history as well as philosophers concerned with nature and space theory.