temporal complexities of cultural production and subject formation. So while the methodology of this book is defined by
historicist readings of the texts with which I work, this book is also
a study of untimeliness, an investigation of cultural productions
bereft of their original context.
The line drawn between the Middle Ages and modernity carries
great cultural significance. For some critics it marks the birth of the
individual,2 for others the birth of the nation,3 for some the beginning of historical consciousness.4 As MargretadeGrazia writes,
there is an
or other of the Plantagenet kings (it matters little which) and its
gothic design may be richly decorated but is decidedly less modern
(and therefore less important) than the Monument’s Roman Doric
column. To use MargretadeGrazia’s language, Freud’s mistake
reveals ‘the exceptional force of that secular divide’ between medieval and modern that ‘determines nothing less than relevance’.3
It reveals Freud’s faith in this divide but also indicates the frequent difficulty of identifying the medieval. For medieval culture
has been so variously reused, reappropriated
, art and in particular literature have often been best
described as revealing and being powerful ways in which we make sense of
the world. But that does not separate them from that world. As MargretadeGrazia notes: ‘language is a material medium to be experienced
like the rest of the material world through the senses’. 16 Reading must, then, as
she puts it, look at rather than see through early modern
Stephen Orgel, ‘Gendering the
Crown’, in Subject and Object in Renaissance
Culture , edited by MargretadeGrazia, Maureen
Quilligan, and Peter Stallybrass (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996), pp. 133–165, p. 155.
See Strong, Portraits of Queen Elizabeth
Haven: Yale University Press, 1977 ),
MargretadeGrazia and Peter Stallybrass
examine the heir/hair/air connection in Macbeth in their
‘The Materiality of the Text’, Shakespeare
Quarterly 44 ( 1993 ), 255–83.
See Parker, Shakespeare from the
early modern studies in recent years, exemplified by critics
such as David Kastan, Peter Stallybrass and MargretadeGrazia.
A critique of the presuppositions of this movement might
usefully begin precisely from this moment in de Man.
Aristotle, Rhetoric , trans. W. Rhys
Roberts, in Complete
implicitly balances Spenser’s official duties as Sheriff of Cork against
the poetic industry which has produced this poem and volume. We
understand that Ralegh has rebuked Spenser for neglecting the
former; Spenser’s reply contends that what he has been doing instead
1 Louis Adrian Montrose, ‘Spenser’s Domestic Domain: Poetry, Property, and the
Early Modern Subject’, in MargretadeGrazia, Maureen Quilligan and Peter Stallybrass (eds), Subject and Object in Renaissance Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996).
Beacon Press, 1994), p. 3.
4 MargretaDeGrazia, Maureen Quilligan, Peter Stallybrass, Subject and Object in
Renaissance Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Introduction,
5 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1958), p. 137.
6 Bill Brown, ‘The matter of materialism: literary mediations’, Material Powers:
Cultural Studies, History and the Material Turn, edited by Tony Bennett and Patrick
Joyce (London: Routledge, 2010), p. 60.
7 The National Archives, Kew (hereafter TNA), PROB 11/11/213,Will of Elizabeth