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Reviewed by:
  • Power, Gender and Ritual in Europe and the Americas: Essays in Memory of Richard C. Trexler
  • W. R. Albury
Arnade, Peter and Michael Rocke, eds, Power, Gender and Ritual in Europe and the Americas: Essays in Memory of Richard C. Trexler (Essays and Studies, 17), Toronto, Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2008; paperback; pp. 364; 34 illustrations; R.R.P. US$37.00; ISBN 9780772720412.

The editors of this volume explain the wide range of topics covered in it by the exceptional breadth of the interests that animated the work of its dedicatee, Richard C. Trexler (1932–2007). Seventeen papers (by as many different contributors) are included here, a few of which are somewhat lightweight in my opinion; but most of the chapters are solid and rewarding. The scope of the volume is indicated by the sections into which the editors have grouped the contributions: 'Renaissance Italy'; 'Early Modern Political and Religious Rituals'; 'Gender and Collective Representations in the Americas'; and 'Nationalism and Historiography in the Modern World'. There is also an introduction by Edward Muir dealing with the work of Trexler himself.

Of the more substantial chapters, four in particular stand out for me – one from each of the book's sections. In the first section, John M. Najemy's 'Alberti on Love: Musings on Private Transgression and Public Discipline' offers a subtle reading of Leon Battista Alberti's I libri della famiglia which draws out a previously unacknowledged strand of thinking on the power of eros. In the second section, 'Spanish Furies: The Siege and Sack of Cities in the Dutch Revolt', Peter J. Arnade explains the Dutch response to the attacks of Spanish troops on civilians and their property in urban centres such as Antwerp, showing how certain features of these assaults were highlighted for their symbolic value. This chapter is unfortunately marred by what appears to be a publisher's error: the omission of one of the key illustrations and printing another one a second time in its place.

The highlights of the third and fourth sections in my view are, respectively, Louise M. Burkhart's 'Humour in Baroque Nahuatl Drama' and Mahnaz Yousefzadeh's 'Anti-Hegemonic Nationalism: The Dante Centenary of 1865'. Both chapters present case studies of the ways in which officially excluded or marginalized groups can find a means of expression within an apparently monolithic system of representation. Burkhart's study reveals that the missionary theatre in colonial Mexico, for all its normalising intent, could [End Page 267] still give voice to an oppositional sentiment on the part of the Nahua people through the personae of comic figures. Yousefzadeh documents the way in which the Florentine Dante festival became a focus of participation for groups who supported the unification of Italy but were marginalized within the new national structure because of their social class, regional location or gender.

W. R. Albury
School of Humanities
University of New England


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