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Liminal lives in the early modern Mediterranean

This book explores how Muslims, Christians and Jews interacted in frontier zones of the early modern Mediterranean (primarily 1530–1670), and how they developed a frontier consciousness that took into account how their interlocutors thought and acted. Sources used include the gamut of genres ranging from factual to fictive, from inquisitional records and different sorts of treatises to plays, novels and (auto)biographies, in numerous languages of the Mediterranean. The Muslim-Christian divide in the Mediterranean produced an unusual kind of slavery, fostered a surge in conversion to Islam, offered an ideal setting for Catholic martyrdom in its rivalry with Protestantism, and provided a haven of sorts for Spanish Muslims (Moriscos) as well as Jews. The book argues that identities and alterities were multiple and versatile, that there was no war between Christianity and Islam during the early modern period, that ‘popular religion’ prevailed over theological principles, that women experienced slavery and religious conversion differently from men, that commerce prevailed over ideology and dogma, and that ‘positive’ human relations among people of different categories were not only possible but inevitable despite prevailing hostile conditions. In the spirit of Braudel, who asserts that ‘the Mediterranean speaks with many voices; it is a sum of individual histories’, this book endeavours to allow the people of the early modern Mediterranean to be heard more than one can find in any other study till now, and strives to cast all its major themes in a new light.

Rothenburg, 1561–1652
Author: Alison Rowlands

Given the widespread belief in witchcraft and the existence of laws against such practices, why did witch-trials fail to gain momentum and escalate into ‘witch-crazes’ in certain parts of early modern Europe? This book answers this question by examining the rich legal records of the German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a city that experienced a very restrained pattern of witch-trials and just one execution for witchcraft between 1561 and 1652. The book explores the factors that explain the absence of a ‘witch-craze’ in Rothenburg, placing particular emphasis on the interaction of elite and popular priorities in the pursuit (and non-pursuit) of alleged witches at law. By making the witchcraft narratives told by the peasants and townspeople of Rothenburg central to its analysis, the book also explores the social and psychological conflicts that lay behind the making of accusations and confessions of witchcraft. Furthermore, it challenges the existing explanations for the gender-bias of witch-trials, and also offers insights into other areas of early modern life, such as experiences of and beliefs about communal conflict, magic, motherhood, childhood and illness. Written in a narrative style, the study invites a wide readership to share in the drama of early modern witch trials.

Paul Currion

. , Seem , M. and Lane , H. R. ( Minneapolis, MN : University of Minnesota Press ). Eisenstein , E. ( 2005 ), The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press ). Frontier Economics

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Dan Geffrey with the New Poete

This is a much-needed volume that brings together established and early career scholars to provide new critical approaches to the relationship between Geoffrey Chaucer and Edmund Spenser. By reading one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages alongside one of the greatest poets of the English Renaissance, this collection poses questions about poetic authority, influence and the nature of intertextual relations in a more wide-ranging manner than ever before. With its dual focus on authors from periods often conceived as radically separate, the collection also responds to current interests in periodisation. This approach will engage academics, researchers and students of medieval and early modern culture.

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Reading the materials of English Renaissance literature

Formal Matters is intended as an exploration of the emerging and potential links in early modern literary and cultural studies between the study of material texts on the one hand, and the analysis of literary form on the other. The essays exemplify some of the ways in which an attention to the matter of writing now combines in critical practice with the questioning of its forms: how an interest in forms might combine with an interest in the material text and, more broadly, in matter and things material. Section I, ‘Forming literature’, makes literary and sub-literary forms its focus, examining notions of authorship; ways of reading, consuming, and circulating literary and non-literary material; and modes of creative production and composition made possible by the exigencies of specific forms. Section III, ‘The matters of writing’, examines forms of writing, both literary and non-literary, that grapple with other fields of knowledge, including legal discourse, foreign news and intelligence, geometry, and theology. At stake for the authors in this section is the interface between discourses encoded in, and even produced through, specific textual forms.Linking these two sections are a pair of essays take up the subject of translation, both as a process that transforms textual matter from one formal and linguistic mode to another and as a theorization of the mediation between specific forms, materials, and cultures.

Colonialism and material culture

This study explores the shared history of the French empire from a perspective of material culture in order to re-evaluate the participation of colonial, Creole, and indigenous agency in the construction of imperial spaces. The decentred approach to a global history of the French colonial realm allows a new understanding of power relations in different locales. Traditional binary models that assume the centralization of imperial power and control in an imperial centre often overlook the variegated nature of agency in the empire. In a selection of case studies in the Caribbean, Canada, Africa, and India, several building projects show the mixed group of planners, experts, and workers, the composite nature of building materials, and elements of different ‘glocal’ styles that give the empire its concrete manifestation. Thus the study proposes to view the French overseas empire in the early modern period not as a consequence or an outgrowth of Eurocentric state building, but rather as the result of a globally interconnected process of empire building.

Thomas Heywood was unusual in the diversity and sheer quantity of his output, and fascinatingly individual in his classicism. This volume offers a ground-breaking investigation of his engagement with the classics across a writing career that spanned more than 40 years. It is the first in-depth study of his classicism, and it features a variety of perspectives. The introduction and twelve essays trace how the classics shaped Heywood’s writing in a wide variety of genres – translation, drama, epyllic and epic verse, compendia, epigrams, panegyrics and pamphlets – and informed both his many pageants and the warship he helped design for Charles I. Close readings demonstrate the depth and breadth of his classicism, establishing the rich influence of continental editions and translations of Latin and Greek texts, early modern mythographies, chronicles and the medieval tradition of Troy as revived by the Tudors. The essays probe Heywood’s habit of juxtaposing different and often disjunctive layers of a capaciously conceived ‘classical tradition’ in thought-provoking ways, attend to his use of the multiplicitous logic of myth to interrogate gender and heroism, and consider the way he turns to antiquity not only to celebrate but also to defamiliarise the theatrical or political present. Different contributions focus on A Woman Killed with Kindness, Oenone and Paris, Loves School, The Rape of Lucrece, Troia Britanica, the Ages plays, Gynaikeion, Pleasant Dialogues and Dramma’s, Apology for Actors and Sovereign of the Seas. Classical reception thus provides an illuminating, productively cross-generic angle for approaching Heywood’s prolific output and idiosyncratic aesthetic.

A cultural history
Author: Indira Ghose

This book examines laughter in the Shakespearean theatre, in the context of a cultural history of early modern laughter, and looks at various strands of the early modern discourse on laughter, ranging from medical treatises and courtesy manuals to Puritan tracts and jestbook literature. It argues that few cultural phenomena have undergone as radical a change in meaning as laughter, a paradigm shift that can be traced back to the early modern period, which saw some remarkable changes in the culture of laughter. Hitherto, laughter had been mainly regarded as a social corrective that mocked those who transgressed societal norms. The evolving cult of courtly manners that spread throughout Renaissance Europe stigmatised derisive laughter as a sign of vulgarity. Laughter became bound up with questions of taste and class identity. At the same time, humanist thinkers revalorised the status of recreation and pleasure. These developments left their trace on the early modern theatre, where laughter was retailed as a commodity in an emerging entertainment industry. William Shakespeare's plays both reflect and shape these changes, particularly in his adaptation of the Erasmian wise fool as a stage figure and in the sceptical strain of thought that is encapsulated in the laughter evoked in the plays.

Early modern almanacs have received relatively little academic attention over the years, despite being the first true form of British mass media. This book is about almanacs and popular medical beliefs and practices in early modern England. The focus is on the medical advice and information disseminated by these unique little booklets between 1550 and 1700. The earliest printed almanacs date from the late fifteenth century, and the booklets are still published at the present day. 'Ephemeral' literature, such as pamphlets, ballads and chapbooks, did especially well during this period, with English almanacs appearing in 'significant' numbers for the first time. The book discusses the readers of almanacs, points out a number of problems facing such an investigation. One of the most important channels for the spread of medical information was through the vast range of easily accessible literature. The book then provides an introduction to the genre of what might be called 'self-help' books, looking at the authors of almanacs and the people who actually purchased and read them. The various types of medical information and advice that almanacs contained are then discussed. The main components of commercial medicine were heavily advertised nostrums and other medical goods and services. The book also discusses health-care for animals in early modern England. Finally, it discusses the medical options available to animals in what is often referred to as 'pre-veterinary' medicine, and the foundation of the first London Veterinary College in 1791.

Open Access (free)
The Papal Inquisition in Modena, 1598–1638

This book explores two areas of interest: the Papal Inquisition in Modena and the status of Jews in an early modern Italian duchy. Its purpose is to deepen existing insights into the role of the former and thus lead to a better understanding of how an Inquisitorial court assumed jurisdiction over a practising Jewish community in the seventeenth century. The book highlights one specific aspect of the history of the Jews in Italy: the trials of professing Jews before the Papal Inquisition at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Inquisitorial processi against professing Jews provide the earliest known evidence of a branch of the Papal Inquisition taking judicial actions against Jews on an unprecedented scale and attempting systematically to discipline a Jewish community, pursuing this aim for several centuries. The book focuses on Inquisitorial activity during the first 40 years of the history of the tribunal in Modena, from 1598 to 1638, the year of the Jews' enclosure in the ghetto, the period which historians have argued was the most active in the Inquisition's history. It argues that trials of the two groups are different because the ecclesiastical tribunals viewed conversos as heretics but Jews as infidels. The book emphasizes the fundamental disparity in Inquisitorial procedure regarding Jews, as well as the evidence examined, especially in Modena. This was where the Duke uses the detailed testimony to be found in Inquisitorial trial transcripts to analyse Jewish interaction with Christian society in an early modern community.