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Studies by Time Period > Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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Broken Harmony Cover

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Broken Harmony

Shakespeare and the Politics of Music

Music was a subject of considerable debate during the Renaissance. The notion that music could be interpreted in a meaningful way clashed regularly with evidence that music was in fact profoundly promiscuous in its application and effects. Subsequently, much writing in the period reflects a desire to ward off music's illegibility rather than come to terms with its actual effects. In Broken Harmony, Joseph M. Ortiz revises our understanding of music's relationship to language in Renaissance England. In the process he shows the degree to which discussions of music were ideologically and politically charged.

Offering a historically nuanced account of the early modern debate over music, along with close readings of several of Shakespeare's plays (including Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale) and Milton's A Maske, Ortiz challenges the consensus that music's affinity with poetry was widely accepted, or even desired, by Renaissance poets. Shakespeare more than any other early modern poet exposed the fault lines in the debate about music's function in art, repeatedly staging disruptive scenes of music that expose an underlying struggle between textual and sensuous authorities. Such musical interventions in textual experiences highlight the significance of sound as an aesthetic and sensory experience independent of any narrative function.

The Bureaucratic Muse Cover

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The Bureaucratic Muse

Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England

Ethan Knapp

Long neglected as a marginal and eccentric figure, Thomas Hoccleve (1367–1426) wrote some of the most sophisticated and challenging poetry of the late Middle Ages. Full of gossip and autobiographical detail, his work has made him immensely useful to modern scholars, yet Hoccleve the poet has remained decidedly in the shadow of Geoffrey Chaucer. In The Bureaucratic Muse, Ethan Knapp investigates the connections between Hoccleve's poetic corpus and his life as a clerk of the Privy Seal. The early fifteenth century was a watershed moment in the histories of both centralized bureaucracy and English vernacular literature. These were the decades in which Chaucer's experiments in a courtly English poetry were rendered into a stable tradition and in which the central writing offices at Westminster emerged from personal government into the full-blown modernity of independent civil service. Knapp shows the importance of Hoccleve's poetry as a site where these two histories come together. By following the shifting relationship between the texts of vernacular poetry and those of bureaucratic documents, Knapp argues that the roots of vernacular fiction reach back into the impersonal documentary habits of a bureaucratic class. The Bureaucratic Muse, the first full-length study of Hoccleve since 1968, provides an authoritative historical and textual treatment of this important but underappreciated writer. Chapters focus on Hoccleve's importance in consolidating key concepts of the literary field such as autobiography, religious heterodoxy, gendered identity, and post-Chaucer textuality. This book will be of interest to scholars of Middle English literature, autobiography, gender studies, and the history of literary institutions.

The Burgundian Code Cover

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The Burgundian Code

Book of Constitutions or Law of Gundobad; Additional Enactments

Translated by Katherine Fischer Drew. Foreword by Edward Peters

"Gives the reader a portrayal of the social institutions of a Germanic people far richer and more exhaustive than any other available source."—from the Foreword, by Edward Peters

From the bloody clashes of the third and fourth centuries there emerged a society that was neither Roman nor Burgundian, but a compound of both. The Burgundian Code offers historians and anthropologists alike illuminating insights into a crucial period of contact between a developed and a tribal society.

By Force and Fear Cover

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By Force and Fear

Taking and Breaking Monastic Vows in Early Modern Europe

An unwilling, desperate nun trapped in the cloister, unable to gain release: such is the image that endures today of monastic life in early modern Europe. In By Force and Fear, Anne Jacobson Schutte demonstrates that this and other common stereotypes of involuntary consignment to religious houses-shaped by literary sources such as Manzoni's The Betrothed-are badly off the mark.

Drawing on records of the Congregation of the Council, held in the Vatican Archive, Schutte examines nearly one thousand petitions for annulment of monastic vows submitted to the Pope and adjudicated by the Council during a 125-year period, from 1668 to 1793. She considers petitions from Roman Catholic regions across Europe and a few from Latin America and finds that, in about half these cases, the congregation reached a decision. Many women and a smaller proportion of men got what they asked for: decrees nullifying their monastic profession and releasing them from religious houses. Schutte also reaches important conclusions about relations between elders and offspring in early modern families. Contrary to the picture historians have painted of increasingly less patriarchal and more egalitarian families, she finds numerous instances of fathers, mothers, and other relatives (including older siblings) employing physical violence and psychological pressure to compel adolescents into "entering religion." Dramatic tales from the archives show that many victims of such violence remained so intimidated that they dared not petition the pope until the agents of force and fear had died, by which time they themselves were middle-aged. Schutte's innovative book will be of great interest to scholars of early modern Europe, especially those who work on religion, the Church, family, and gender.

The Byzantine Empire (Revised Edition) Cover

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The Byzantine Empire (Revised Edition)

Robert Browning

This classic study presents the history of the Byzantine Empire from the sixth to the fifteenth century in terms of political events, art, literature, and thought. It is addressed to the general reader of history as well as to students and scholars.

Captives and Their Saviors in the Medieval Crown of Aragon Cover

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Captives and Their Saviors in the Medieval Crown of Aragon

Jarbel Rodriguez

Captives and Their Saviors in the Medieval Crown of Aragon argues that by this time the ransoming efforts were on a kingdom-wide scale engaging not only professional ransomers, merchants, and officials of the crown but the population at large.

The Capture of Constantinople Cover

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The Capture of Constantinople

The "Hystoria Constantinopolitana" of Gunther of Pairis

Edited and Translated by Alfred J. Andrea

The armies of the Fourth Crusade that left Western Europe at the beginning of the thirteenth century never reached the Holy Land to fight the Infidel; they stopped instead at Byzantium and sacked that capital of eastern Christendom. Much of what we know today of those events comes from contemporary accounts by secular writers; their perspective is balanced by a document written from a monastic point of view and now available for the first time in English.

The Hystoria Constantinopolitana relates the adventures of Martin of Pairis, an abbot of the Cistercian Order who participated in the plunder of the city, as recorded by his monk Gunther. Written to justify the abbot's pious pilferage of scared relics and his transporting them back to his monastery in Alsace, it is a work of Christian metahistory that shows how the sack of Constantinople fits into God's plan for humanity, and that deeds done under divine guidance are themselves holy and righteous.

The Hystoria Constantinopolitana is one of the most complex and sophisticated historiographical work of its time, deftly interweaving moods and motifs, themes and scenes. In producing the first English translation and analysis of this work, Alfred Andrea has captured the full flavor of the original with its alternating section of prose and poetry. His introduction to the text provides background on Gunther's life and work and explores the monk's purpose in writing the Hystoria Constantinopolitana—not the least of which was extolling the virtues of Abbott Martin, who was sometimes accuse of laxity by his superiors in the Order.

Gunther's work is significant for its effort to deal with problems raised by the participation of monks in the Crusades, making it a valuable contribution to both crusading and monastic history. The Capture of Constantinople adds to our knowledge of the Fourth Crusade and provides unusual insight into the attitudes of the participants and the cultural-intellectual history of the early thirteenth century.

Catalogue of the Slavonic Cyrillic Manuscripts of the National Szechenyi Library Cover

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Catalogue of the Slavonic Cyrillic Manuscripts of the National Szechenyi Library

Edited by Ralph Clemminsson and Elisaveta Moussakova

This volume provides a thorough introduction to the Cyrillic collection, and contains the detailed descriptions of the fifty-six Slavonic Cyrillic codices or fragments thereof held by the National Széchényi Library in Budapest, the vast majority of which are here described for the first time. The analysis of the codices has been done using the resources of modern technology. Written from the thirteenth to early nineteenth century, the codices were mostly produced within the confines of the historical Kingdom of Hungary. The catalogue is extensively illustrated with pictures of the most characteristic and decorative pages and a few covers of the codices. This publication is a further step towards the complete documentation of the Cyrillic manuscript heritage of Central Europe.

Catholic Culture in Early Modern England  Cover

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Catholic Culture in Early Modern England

Edited by Ronald Corthell, Frances E. Dolan, Christopher Highley, and Arthur F. Marotti

This collection of essays explores the survival of Catholic culture in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England—a time of Protestant domination and sometimes persecution. Contributors examine not only devotional, political, autobiographical, and other written texts, but also material objects such as church vestments, architecture, and symbolic spaces. Among the topics discussed in this volume are the influence of Latin culture on Catholic women, Marian devotion, the activities of Catholics in continental seminaries and convents, the international context of English Catholicism, and the influential role of women as maintainers of Catholic culture in a hostile religious and political environment. Catholic Culture in Early Modern England makes an important contribution to the ongoing project of historians and literary scholars to rewrite the cultural history of post-Reformation English Catholicism.

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Censorship and Cultural Sensibility

The Regulation of Language in Tudor-Stuart England

By Debora Shuger

In this study of the reciprocities binding religion, politics, law, and literature, Debora Shuger offers a profoundly new history of early modern English censorship, one that bears centrally on issues still current: the rhetoric of ideological extremism, the use of defamation to ruin political opponents, the grounding of law in theological ethics, and the terrible fragility of public spheres. Starting from the question of why no one prior to the mid-1640s argued for free speech or a free press per se, Censorship and Cultural Sensibility surveys the texts against which Tudor-Stuart censorship aimed its biggest guns, which turned out not to be principled dissent but libels, conspiracy fantasies, and hate speech. The book explores the laws that attempted to suppress such material, the cultural values that underwrote this regulation, and, finally, the very different framework of assumptions whose gradual adoption rendered censorship illegitimate.

Virtually all substantive law on language concerned defamation, regulating what one could say about other people. Hence Tudor-Stuart laws extended protection only to the person hurt by another's words, never to their speaker. In treating transgressive language as akin to battery, English law differed fundamentally from papal censorship, which construed its target as heresy. There were thus two models of censorship operative in the early modern period, both premised on religious norms, but one concerned primarily with false accusation and libel, the other with false belief and immorality. Shuger investigates the first of these models—the dominant English one—tracing its complex origins in the Roman law of iniuria through medieval theological ethics and Continental jurisprudence to its continuities and discontinuities with current U.S. law. In so doing, she enables her reader to grasp how in certain contexts censorship could be understood as safeguarding both charitable community and personal dignitary rights.

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