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Spectators, aesthetics and encompletion
Author: Chloe Porter

This book discusses early modern English drama as a part of visual culture. It concerns the ideas about 'making and unmaking' that Shakespeare and his contemporaries may have known and formulated, and how these ideas relate to the author's own critical assumptions about early modern aesthetic experience. The study of drama as a part of visual culture offers the perfect context for an exploration of pre-modern aesthetic discourse. The book expounds the author's approach to plays as participants in a lively post-Reformation visual culture in the process of 're-formation'. It then focuses on the social meanings of patronage of the visual arts in a discussion of Paulina as patron of Hermione's image in The Winter's Tale. The discussion of The Winter's Tale pivots around the play's troubling investment in patriarchal notions of 'perfection'. The book also explores image-breaking in Robert Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay. This play presents an instance of onstage iconoclasm in the supernatural destruction of a demonic brazen head, a quasi-magical figure that had been depicted in English literature since at least the twelfth century. In focusing on the portrayal of invisibility in The Two Merry Milkmaids, the book explores early modern preoccupation with processes of visual construction in a play in which there is very little artisanal activity.

Chloe Porter

This book discusses early modern English drama as a part of visual culture. But what is visual culture, and why use this phrase in place of the ‘fine arts’ or the ‘visual arts’? In part, this choice is motivated by my concern with exploring the plays in their historical contexts. Shakespeare and his contemporaries would not have recognised the phrase ‘fine arts’. Nor would

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama

This book attempts to interrogate the literary, artistic and cultural output of early modern England. Following Constance Classen's view that understandings of the senses, and sensory experience itself, are culturally and historically contingent; it explores the culturally specific role of the senses in textual and aesthetic encounters in England. The book follows Joachim-Ernst Berendt's call for 'a democracy of the senses' in preference to the various sensory hierarchies that have often shaped theory and criticism. It argues that the playhouse itself challenged its audiences' reliance on the evidence of their own eyes, teaching early modern playgoers how to see and how to interpret the validity of the visual. The book offers an essay on each of the five senses, beginning and ending with two senses, taste and smell, that are often overlooked in studies of early modern culture. It investigates Robert Herrick's accounts in Hesperides of how the senses function during sexual pleasure and contact. The book also explores sensory experiences, interrogating textual accounts of the senses at night in writings from the English Renaissance. It offers a picture of early modern thought in which sensory encounters are unstable, suggesting ways in which the senses are influenced by the contexts in which they are experienced: at night, in states of sexual excitement, or even when melancholic. The book looks at the works of art themselves and considers the significance of the senses for early modern subjects attending a play, regarding a painting, and reading a printed volume.

Mark Robson

7 Mark Robson Defending poetry, or, is there an early modern aesthetic? Is there an early modern aesthetic? Or, better: What does one call the space currently occupied by aesthetics before aesthetics emerges? This question appears within the space occupied by what has become known in certain literary-critical circles as the early modern period, broadly defined as 1500–1700.1 Formulation of the idea of the early modern can be taken as an exemplary moment in the permeation of a ‘new’ historicism through literary studies since the early 1980s, most obviously

in The new aestheticism
An anthology

This is a companion to Pastoral poetry of the English Renaissance: An anthology (2016), the largest ever collection of its kind. The monograph-length Introduction traces the course of pastoral from antiquity to the present day. The historical account is woven into a thematic map of the richly varied pastoral mode, and it is linked to the social context, not only by local allegory and allusion but by its deeper origins and affinities. English Renaissance pastoral is set within the context of this total perspective.

Besides the formal eclogue, the study covers many genres: lyric, epode, georgic, country-house poem, ballad, romantic epic, drama and prose romance. Major practitioners like Theocritus, Virgil, Sidney, Spenser, Drayton and Milton are discussed individually.

The Introduction also charts the many means by which pastoral texts circulated during the Renaissance, with implications for the history and reception of all Early Modern poetry. The poems in the Anthology have been edited from the original manuscripts and early printed texts, and the Textual Notes comprehensively document the sources and variant readings. There are also notes on the poets and analytical indices of themes, genres, and various categories of proper names. Seldom, if ever, has a cross-section of English Renaissance poetry been textually annotated in such detail.

Open Access (free)
A cultural history of the early modern Lord Mayor’s Show, 1585-1639
Author: Tracey Hill

The London Lord Mayors' Shows were high-profile and lavish entertainments that were at the centre of the cultural life of the City of London in the early modern period. The Show was staged annually to celebrate the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor. The London mayoralty was not simply an entity of civic power, but always had its ritual and ceremonial dimensions. Pageantry was a feature of the day's entertainment. This book focuses on the social, cultural and economic contexts, in which the Shows were designed, presented and experienced, and explores the Shows in textual, historical, bibliographical, and archival and other contexts. It highlights the often-overlooked roles of the artificer and those other craftsmen who contributed so valuably to the day's entertainment. The Show was the concern of the Great Twelve livery companies from the ranks of one of which the Lord Mayor was elected. The book discusses, inter alia, the actors' roles, the props, music and costumes used during the Show and looks at how important emblems and imagery were to these productions. Pageant writers and artificers took advantage of the space available to them just as dramatists did on the professional stage. From 1585 onwards the Lord Mayor's Show was with increasing frequency transmitted from event to text in the form of short pamphlets produced in print runs ranging from 200 to 800 copies. The book also demonstrates the ways in which the Shows engaged with the changing socio-economic scene of London and with court and city politics.

New interdisciplinary essays
Editor: Bronwen Price

Francis Bacon produced his final draft of the New Atlantis around the years 1624-1625. Standing at the threshold of early modern thought, Bacon's text operates at the interstices of its contemporary culture and does indeed signal a desire to 'illuminate all the border-regions that confine upon the circle of our present knowledge'. This book presents a collection of essays that show how the New Atlantis negotiates a variety of contexts, namely literary, philosophical, political, religious and social, in order to achieve this. The narrative begins with a standard literary device. When Bacon wrote the New Atlantis, he clearly had More's Utopia in mind as a model. For all his strictures on the use of language for rhetorical effect, Francis Bacon was thoroughly grounded in the Renaissance art of rhetoric. He consciously drew on his rhetorical skill in his writings, adapting his style as occasion demanded. The New Atlantis is a text about natural philosophy which seems to offer connections at almost every point with moral and political philosophy. The book discusses two forms of natural knowledge that Bacon takes up and develops in the New Atlantis: natural magic, and medicine. The modern project is crucially dependent on two fundamental miracles: the miracle of creation and the miracle of divine revelation. The book also analyses Bacon's representations of colonialism and Jewishness in the New Atlantis has revealed. The New Atlantis raises questions concerning the relationship between censorship and knowledge.

Open Access (free)
Simon Smith, Jackie Watson, and Amy Kenny

Introduction Simon Smith, Jackie Watson and Amy Kenny What can texts, performances and artworks tell us about the senses in early modern England? The sensory experiences of subjects living some four centuries ago are to some degree lost. We cannot hope to recreate the experiences of hearing, smelling and feeling the interior environment of a church at a service in the 1590s, or seeing, touching and tasting the River Thames on a boat journey in the 1640s. Today, we might encounter early modern culture through language, sight and touch, mediated by written texts

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Open Access (free)
Behind the screen
Chloe Porter

This book has suggested that early modern playwrights are preoccupied with processes of making, unmaking and remaking in light of the transgressive implications of ‘finish’. The resulting emphasis on unfinished processes of construction in plays speaks strongly to the notion of early modern drama as ‘an art of incompletion: a form of display that flaunts the limits of

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
Open Access (free)
Lucy Munro

desires to experience all of the senses simultaneously, in a heady, synesthetic experience, and his description conjures in sensuous detail the intensity of its sensation. In performance, moreover, Randolph’s words would combine with the performance of the actor, who perhaps draws out the vowels in ‘one … long … sounding … longer’ or uses gesture to suggest the glutton’s ecstatic frustration. Taking Acolastus’s transcendent fantasy as its starting point, this essay explores the ways in which taste was staged in early modern plays, situating it in the context of broader

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660