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Studies by Time Period > Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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Art and the Religious Image in El Greco's Italy Cover

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Art and the Religious Image in El Greco's Italy

By Andrew R. Casper

Art and the Religious Image in El Greco’s Italy is the first book-length examination of the early career of one of the early modern period’s most notoriously misunderstood figures. Born around 1541, Domenikos Theotokopoulos began his career as an icon painter on the island of Crete. He is best known, under the name “El Greco,” for the works he created while in Spain, paintings that have provoked both rapt admiration and scornful disapproval since his death in 1614. But the nearly ten years he spent in Venice and Rome, from 1567 to 1576, have remained underexplored until now. Andrew Casper’s examination of this period allows us to gain a proper understanding of El Greco’s entire career and reveals much about the tumultuous environment for religious painting after the Council of Trent. Casper’s analysis portrays El Greco as an active participant in some of the most formative artistic discussions of his time. It shows how the paintings of his early career explore the form, function, and conception of the religious image in the second half of the sixteenth century, and how he cultivated artistic fame by incorporating aspects of the styles of Michelangelo, Titian, and other contemporary masters. Beyond this, El Greco’s paintings bear the marks of an artist attentive to theoretical speculation on the artistic process, the current understandings of the science of optics and perspective, and the role of Roman antiquity for Christian ideology. All of these characteristics demonstrate El Greco’s unique understanding of the merger of artistic craft with devotional intent through what Casper terms the “artful icon.”

The Art of Medieval French Romance Cover

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The Art of Medieval French Romance

Douglas Kelly

Douglas Kelly provides a comprehensive and historically valid analysis of the art of medieval French romance as the romancers themselves describe it. He focuses on well-known writers, such as Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France, and also draws on a wide range of other sources—prose romances, non-Arthurian romances, thirteenth-century verse romances, and variant versions from the later Middle Ages.
    Kelly is the first scholar to present the “art” of medieval romance to a modern audience through the interventions and comments of medieval writers themselves. The book begins by examining the difficulties scholars perceive in medieval literature: problems such as source and intertextuality, structure in its manifold modern meanings, and character psychology and individuality. These issues frame Kelly’s identification and discussion of all the known authorial interventions on the art and craft of romance. Kelly’s careful reconstruction of the “art” of romance, based on the records left by the romancers themselves, will be an invaluable resource and guide for all medievalists.

Art of Subversion in Inquisitorial Spain Cover

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Art of Subversion in Inquisitorial Spain

Rojas and Delicado

by Manuel de Costa Fontes

Rojas's Celestina (1499) is perhaps the second greatest work of Spanish literature, right after Don Quixote, and Delicado sought to surpass it with La Lozana andaluza (1530), an important precedent of the picaresque novel.Both works were written during the height of the Inquisition, when the only relatively safe way for New Christian writers of Jewish extraction like Rojas and Delicado to express what they felt about the discrimination they suffered and their doubts regarding the faith that had been forced upon their ancestors was in a covert, indirect manner. Some scholars have detected this subversive element in Rojas' and Delicado's corrosive view of the Christian societies in which they lived, but this book goes far beyond such impressionism, showing through abundant textual evidence that these two authors used superficial bawdiness and claims regarding the morality of their respective works as cover to encode attacks against the central dogmas of Christianity: the Annunciation, the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, and the Holy Trinity.This book, which will generate controversy among Hispanists, many of whom have refused to examine these works for non-Catholic views, will be of interest not only to students and scholars of Spanish literature, but also to those involved in Jewish studies, Medieval European history, and cultural studies.

Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry Cover

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Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry

The Complete Works of Hartmann von Aue

Translated with commentary by Frank Tobin, Kim Vivian, Richard H. Lawson

Hartmann von Aue (c. 1170-1215) is universally recognized as the first medieval German poet to create world-class literature. He crafted German into a language of refined literary expression that paved the way for writers such as Gottfried von Strassburg, Walther von der Vogelweide, and Wolfram von Eschenbach. This volume presents the English reader for the first time with the complete works of Hartmann in readable, idiomatic English. Hartmann's literary efforts cover all the major genres and themes of medieval courtly literature. His Arthurian romances, Erec and Iwein, which he modeled after Chrétien de Troyes, introduced the Arthurian world to German audiences and set the standard for later German writers. His lyric poetry treats many aspects of courtly love, including fine examples of the crusading song. His dialogue on love delineates the theory of courtly relationships between the sexes and the quandary the lover experiences. His verse novellas Gregorius and Poor Heinrich transcend the world of mere human dimensions and examine the place and duties of the human in the divine scheme of things. Longfellow would later use Poor Heinrich in his Golden Legend. Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry is a major work destined to place Hartmann at the center of medieval courtly literature for English readers.

Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences, 1400-1600 Cover

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Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences, 1400-1600

This book provides the historical background for a central issue in the history of science: the influence of artisans, craftsmen, and other practitioners on the emergent empirical methodologies that characterized the “new sciences” of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Long offers a coherent account and critical revision of the “Zilsel thesis,” an influential etiological narrative which argues that such craftsmen were instrumental in bringing about the “Scientific Revolution.”

Artisan/Practitioners reassesses the issue of artisanal influence from three different perspectives: the perceived relationships between art and nature; the Vitruvian architectural tradition with its appreciation of both theory and practice; and the development of “trading zones”—arenas in which artisans and learned men communicated in substantive ways. These complex social and intellectual developments, the book argues, underlay the development of the empirical sciences.

This volume provides new discussion and synthesis of a theory that encompasses broad developments in European history and study of the natural world. It will be a valuable resource for college-level teaching, and for scholars and others interested in the history of science, late medieval and early modern European history, and the Scientific Revolution.

Augustine's Love of Wisdom Cover

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Augustine's Love of Wisdom

An Introspective Philosophy

by Vernon Bourke

Augustine's Love of Wisdom is an analytical and interpretive focus on the first thirty chapters of book ten of Augustine's Autobiographical Confessions. Bourke provides a rich synthesis of key tenets of Augustine's psychology in the context of his philosophical system and selects the most intensive writing of Augustine on the intricacies of the human psyche, providing the reader with insight on an Augustinian explanatory method, introspection.

The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton Cover

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The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton

J. Christopher Warner

The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton rewrites the history of the Renaissance Vergilian epic by incorporating the neo-Latin side of the story alongside the vernacular one, revealing how epics spoke to each other "across the language gap" and together comprised a single, "Augustinian tradition" of epic poetry. Beginning with Petrarch's Africa, Warner offers major new interpretations of Renaissance epics both famous and forgotten—from Milton's Paradise Lost to a Latin Christiad by his near-contemporary, Alexander Ross—thereby shedding new light on the development of the epic genre. For advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and scholars in the fields of Italian, English, and Comparative literatures as well as the Classics and the history of religion and literature.

Authorship and Publicity Before Print Cover

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Authorship and Publicity Before Print

Jean Gerson and the Transformation of Late Medieval Learning

By Daniel Hobbins

Widely recognized by contemporaries as the most powerful theologian of his generation, Jean Gerson (1363-1429) dominated the stage of western Europe during a time of plague, fratricidal war, and religious schism. Yet modern scholarship has struggled to define Gerson's place in history, even as it searches for a compelling narrative to tell the story of his era.

Daniel Hobbins argues for a new understanding of Gerson as a man of letters actively managing the publication of his works in a period of rapid expansion in written culture. More broadly, Hobbins casts Gerson as a mirror of the complex cultural and intellectual shifts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In contrast to earlier theologians, Gerson took a more humanist approach to reading and to authorship. He distributed his works, both Latin and French, to a more diverse medieval public. And he succeeded in reaching a truly international audience of readers within his lifetime. Through such efforts, Gerson effectively embodies the aspirations of a generation of writers and intellectuals. Removed from the narrow confines of late scholastic theology and placed into a broad interdisciplinary context, his writings open a window onto the fascinating landscape of fifteenth-century Europe.

The picture of late medieval culture that emerges from this study is neither a specter of decaying scholasticism nor a triumphalist narrative of budding humanism and reform. Instead, Hobbins describes a period of creative and dynamic growth, when new attitudes toward writing and debate demanded and eventually produced new technologies of the written word.

The Axe and the Oath Cover

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The Axe and the Oath

Ordinary Life in the Middle Ages

Robert Fossier

In The Axe and the Oath, one of the world's leading medieval historians presents a compelling picture of daily life in the Middle Ages as it was experienced by ordinary people. Writing for general readers, Robert Fossier vividly describes how these vulnerable people confronted life, from birth to death, including childhood, marriage, work, sex, food, illness, religion, and the natural world. While most histories of the period focus on the ideas and actions of the few who wielded power and stress how different medieval people were from us, Fossier concentrates on the other nine-tenths of humanity in the period and concludes that "medieval man is us."

Drawing on a broad range of evidence, Fossier describes how medieval men and women encountered, coped with, and understood the basic material facts of their lives. We learn how people related to agriculture, animals, the weather, the forest, and the sea; how they used alcohol and drugs; and how they buried their dead. But The Axe and the Oath is about much more than simply the material demands of life. We also learn how ordinary people experienced the social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of medieval life, from memory and imagination to writing and the Church. The result is a sweeping new vision of the Middle Ages that will entertain and enlighten readers.

Barbarous Antiquity Cover

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Barbarous Antiquity

Reorienting the Past in the Poetry of Early Modern England

By Miriam Jacobson

In the late sixteenth century, English merchants and diplomats ventured into the eastern Mediterranean to trade directly with the Turks, the keepers of an important emerging empire in the Western Hemisphere, and these initial exchanges had a profound effect on English literature. While the theater investigated representations of religious and ethnic identity in its portrayals of Turks and Muslims, poetry, Miriam Jacobson argues, explored East-West exchanges primarily through language and the material text. Just as English markets were flooded with exotic goods, so was the English language awash in freshly imported words describing items such as sugar, jewels, plants, spices, paints, and dyes, as well as technological advancements such as the use of Arabic numerals in arithmetic and the concept of zero.

Even as these Eastern words and imports found their way into English poetry, poets wrestled with paying homage to classical authors and styles. As Barbarous Antiquity reveals, poems adapted from Latin or Greek sources and set in the ancient classical world were now reoriented to reflect a contemporary, mercantile Ottoman landscape. As Renaissance English writers including Shakespeare, Jonson, Marlowe, and Chapman weighed their reliance on classical poetic models against contemporary cultural exchanges, a new form of poetry developed, positioned at the crossroads of East and West, ancient and modern. Building each chapter around the intersection of an Eastern import and a classical model, Jacobson shows how Renaissance English poetry not only reconstructed the classical past but offered a critique of that very enterprise with a new set of words and metaphors imported from the East.

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