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Ovidian Romance and the Cult of Form
Gregory Heyworth’s Desiring Bodies considers the physical body and its relationship to poetic and corporate bodies in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Beginning in the odd contest between body and form in the first sentence of Ovid’s protean Metamorphoses, Heyworth identifies these concepts as structuring principles of civic and poetic unity and pursues their consequences as refracted through a series of romances, some typical of the genre, some problematically so. Bodies, in Ovidian romance, are the objects of human desire to possess, to recover, to form, or to violate. Part 1 examines this desire as both a literal and socio-political phenomenon through readings of Marie de France’s Lais, Chrétien de Troyes’ Cligès and Perceval, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, texts variously expressing social, economic, and political culture in romance. In part 2, Heyworth is concerned with missing or absent bodies in Petrarch’s Rime sparse, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Milton’s Paradise Lost and the generic rupture they cause in lyric, tragedy, and epic. Throughout, Heyworth draws on social theorists such as Kant, Weber, Simmel, and Elias to explore the connection between social and literary form. The first comparative, diachronic study of romance form in many years, Desiring Bodies is a persuasive and important cultural history that demonstrates Ovid’s pervasive influence not only on the poetics but on the politics of the medieval and early modern Western tradition.
Law, Government, and Religion
With this pioneering book, John T. Shawcross debunks a common assumption about what we see in Milton’s work: that Milton’s views remained unchanged over time. Shawcross systematically analyzes this belief in light of Milton’s vocation, social life, politics, and religion, and presents us with a Milton who, indeed, changes his mind.
The one constant in Milton’s writing and thought is that of faith in God, but the theology that underlies this unchanging faith—such as his views on the Trinity and God’s providence—develops through reflection and adverse experience, often yielding more defined ideas. Shawcross also traces the development of Milton’s concepts about political thought, attitudes toward the church, financial matters, the “people,” and gender, some of which result in complicated (and often unresolved) issues.
Shawcross’s presentation of a Milton whose thought does indeed develop and change—albeit with an unbending belief that faith and God supervene—is an essential contribution to Milton scholarship.
Vol. 1 (2012) through current issue
Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures reveals alternative modes of contact for medieval scholars, librarians and archivists specializing in Middle Ages study and Medieval texts, made possible by the emergence of digital resources and by engagement with the Digital Humanities. The Journal pushes traditional national and temporal boundaries as the first such publication linking peer-reviewed research and scholarship with the digital libraries of medieval manuscripts such as The Digital Library of Medieval Manuscripts and Parker on the Web. Published twice a year, Digital Philology includes scholarly essays, manuscript studies, and reviews of relevant resources such as websites, digital projects, and books.
Counter-Epic Literature in Early Modern Spain
The counter-epic is a literary style that developed in reaction to imperialist epic conventions as a means of scrutinizing the consequences of foreign conquest of dominated peoples. It also functioned as a transitional literary form, a bridge between epic narratives of military heroics and novelistic narratives of commercial success. In Discourses of Empire, Barbara Simerka examines the representation of militant Christian imperialism in early modern Spanish literature by focusing on this counter-epic discourse.Simerka is drawn to literary texts that questioned or challenged the imperial project of the Hapsburg monarchy in northern Europe and the New World. She notes the variety of critical ideas across the spectrum of diplomatic, juridical, economic, theological, philosophical, and literary writings, and she argues that the presence of such competing discourses challenges the frequent assumption of a univocal, hegemonic culture in Spain during the imperial period. Simerka is especially alert to the ways in which different discourses-hegemonic, residual, emergent-coexist and compete simultaneously in the mediation of power. Discourses of Empire offers fresh insight into the political and intellectual conditions of Hapsburg imperialism, illuminating some rarely examined literary genres, such as burlesque epics, history plays, and indiano drama. Indeed, a special feature of the book is a chapter devoted specifically to indiano literature. Simerka's thorough working knowledge of contemporary literary theory and her inclusion of American, English, and French texts as points of comparison contribute much to current studies of Spanish Golden Age literature.
Traditional Natural Law and Its Encounter with Modernity
The central argument of this book is that the traditional notion of Natural Law has almost disappeared from the ethical and moral discourse of our time. For Thomas Aquinas, the author whose conception of Natural Law forms the foundation for the book, the ontological and ethical orders are not autonomous but inseparable-in effect, his ethical system is an ontological morality.For Thomas, the ethical (practical wisdom) must be understood as an extension of the metaphysical (speculative wisdom). Most modern philosophers, by contrast, consider these two orders to be entirely separate. Here Luis Cortest shows how traditional Natural Law (the form Thomas Aquinas developed from classical and medieval sources) was transformed by thinkers like John Locke and Kant into a doctrine compatible with early modern and modern notions of nature and morality. In early Modern Europe one of the first of the great debates about moral philosophy took place in sixteenth-century Spain, as a philosophical dispute concerning the humanity of the Native Americans. This foreshadowed debates in later centuries, which the author reevaluates in light of these earlier sources. The book also includes a close examination of the recent work of scholars like John Finnis and Brian Tierney, who argue that traditional Natural Law theorists were defenders of a doctrine of positive rights. Rather than attempt to make the traditional doctrine compatible with modern rights theory, however, the author argues that traditional Natural Law must be understood as a form of pre-Enlightenment ontological morality that has survived the onslaught of modernity.
Rereading The Nun's Priest's Tale
Chaucer’s The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is one of the most popular of The Canterbury Tales. It is only 646 lines long, yet it contains elements of a beast fable, an exemplum, a satire, and other genres. There have been countless attempts to articulate the “real” meaning of the tale, but it has confounded the critics. Peter W. Travis contends that part of the fun and part of the frustration of trying to interpret the tale has to do with Chaucer’s use of the tale to demonstrate the resistance of all literature to traditional critical practices. But the world of The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is so creative and so quintessentially Chaucerian that critics persist in writing about it. No one has followed the critical fortunes of Chauntecleer and his companions more closely over time than Peter Travis. One of the most important contributions of this book is his assessment of the tale’s reception. Travis also provides an admirable discussion of genre: his analysis of parody and Menippean satire clarify how to approach works such as this tale that take pleasure in resisting traditional generic classifications. Travis also demonstrates that the tale deliberately invoked its readers’ memories of specific grammar school literary assignments, and the tale thus becomes a miniaturized synopticon of western learning. Building on these analyses and insights, Travis’s final argument is that The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is Chaucer’s premier work of self-parody, an ironic apologia pro sua arte. The most profound matters foregrounded in the tale are not advertisements of the poet’s achievements. Rather, they are poetic problems that Chaucer wrestled with from the beginning of his career and, at the end of that career, wanted to address in a concentrated, experimental, and parapoetic way.
The Rhetoric of sacramental Devotion in Early Modern England
Combining theoretically engaged analyses with historically contextualized close readings, Divine Subjection posits new ways of understanding the relations between devotional literature and early English culture. Shifting the critical discussion from a “poetics” to a “rhetoric” of devotion, Kuchar considers how a broad range of devotional and metadevotional texts in Catholic and mainstream Protestant traditions register and seek to mitigate processes of desacralization—the loss of legible commerce between heavenly and earthly orders. This shift in critical focus makes clear the extent to which early modern devotional writing engages with some of the period’s most decisive theological conflicts and metaphysical crises. Kuchar places devotional writing alongside psychoanalytical and phenomenological theories and analyzes how religious and conceptual conflicts are registered in and accommodated by the predication of sacramental conceptions of the self. Through a devotional rhetoric based on context-specific uses of linguistic excessiveness, early modern devotional writers reimagined a form of sacramental identity that was triggered by, and structured in relation to, a divine Other whose desire preceded and exceeded one’s own. Through readings of works by Robert Southwell, Richard Crashaw, John Donne, Thomas Traherne and other lesser known authors, Divine Subjection explores how writers reimagined the sacramental continuity between divine and human orders amid a range of theological and philosophical conflicts. Kuchar thus examines how rhetoric of sacramental devotion works to construct ideal religious subjects within and against the broader experience of desacralization.
The Early Modern Atlantic World
In Europe and North and South America during the early modern period, people believed that their dreams might be, variously, messages from God, the machinations of demons, visits from the dead, or visions of the future. Interpreting their dreams in much the same ways as their ancient and medieval forebears had done—and often using the dream-guides their predecessors had written—dreamers rejoiced in heralds of good fortune and consulted physicians, clerics, or practitioners of magic when their visions waxed ominous. Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions traces the role of dreams and related visionary experiences in the cultures within the Atlantic world from the late thirteenth to early seventeenth centuries, examining an era of cultural encounters and transitions through this unique lens.
In the wake of Reformation-era battles over religious authority and colonial expansion into Asia, Africa, and the Americas, questions about truth and knowledge became particularly urgent and debate over the meaning and reliability of dreams became all the more relevant. Exploring both indigenous and European methods of understanding dream phenomena, this volume argues that visions were central to struggles over spiritual and political authority. Featuring eleven original essays, Dreams, Dreamers, and Visions explores the ways in which reports and interpretations of dreams played a significant role in reflecting cultural shifts and structuring historic change.
Contributors: Emma Anderson, Mary Baine Campbell, Luis Corteguera, Matthew Dennis, Carla Gerona, María V Jordán, Luís Filipe Silvério Lima, Phyllis Mack, Ann Marie Plane, Andrew Redden, Janine Rivière, Leslie Tuttle, Anthony F. C. Wallace.
Long recognized as one of the greatest medieval philosophical theologians, John Duns Scotus made his most innovative theoretical contributions in the area of metaphysics. A careful and detailed study of his argument for the existence of God and the theory of knowledge that makes this possible provides the most direct access to his basic ideas. Unlike the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas or Anselm's famous Proslogion argument, Scotus's proof is of another order of complexity and amounts to a little "summa" of his metaphysics. Among those theologians to accept Aristotle's scientific theory, Scotus is perhaps the first to realize fully its negative consequences if the philosophical doctrines of divine illumination and the analogical concept of being interact. His treatment of the God-question is distinguished for its deliberatively holistic approach to what was conventionally a series of unrelated topics.