Abstract

Abstract:

In the early seventeenth century, playwrights such as Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton composed mock-almanacs. These texts aimed to undermine the contemporary fascination with almanacs and the astrological determinism housed in such directive texts. Pushing against the idea that knowledge of one's body, the future, and the stability of the nation-state can be articulated in a single, calendrical text, mock-almanac authors instead adopted a position of playful ignorance as a means for counteracting the hubris of the new science of the period. This essay contextualizes the growing interest in and critique of astrology and looks to how literary authors responded to this phenomenon in print. The mock-almanac is a unique genre, participating in the culture of audience response to scientific understanding while at the same time undermining the means through which readers and audiences encountered such a proliferation of totalizing narratives in celestial influence. In arguing for a serious consideration of the virtues of ignorance in these satiric texts, this article highlights the critical distance between our modern sensibilities and the state of purposeful unknowing espoused in the jest pamphlet culture of the period.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0383
Print ISSN
0039-3738
Pages
pp. 129-153
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-09
Open Access
No
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