According to Horace, the poem is a memorial surpassing the commemorative function of funeral monuments like the pyramids. This claim to the superior mnemonic power of poetry derives from the immateriality and consequently the immortality of the poem as well as the person commemorated by it. Highlighting the decay, past and future, of material monuments, the ruin is a conceptual feature of topos. The significance of ruins changes according to different temporal and cultural contexts. Thus in the wake of Reformation iconoclasm, ruin poems took on a specific function in England. The vogue for ruin poems in Elizabethan England was more than a simple coincidence, let alone self-evident: ruin-poetry fulfilled important social, mnemonic and poetic functions after the Reformation. This chapter seeks to reconstruct these functions and to show how they informed one particularly instructive text, Edmund Spenser's The Ruines of Time .
This book explores a range of literary and theatrical forms as means of mediating religious conflict in early modern England. It deals with the specific ways available to mediate religious conflict, precisely because faith mattered more than many other social paradigms. The first part explores the ways in which specific religious rituals and related cultural practices were taken up by literary texts. In a compelling rereading of the final act of 'The Merchant of Venice', the book investigates the devotional differences informing early modern observances of Easter. Subsequently, it explores the ways in which Christmas provided a confessional bridge uniting different religious constituencies. Goodnight ballads were not only commercially successful pieces of public entertainment but also effective forms of predominantly Protestant religious persuasion. The book's consideration of Elizabethan romance links the literary form to the sacrament of the Eucharist, and argues that the Eucharist debate had an impact on Elizabethan romances. The second part 'Negotiating confessional conflict' provides a rereading of When You See Me You Know Me, exposing the processes of religious reform as an on-going means of mediating the new normality of confessional plurality. It examines the potential of the tragic form by a reading of the play The White Devil, and discusses the ideological fault line in the views of witchcraft. The book also shows that Henry V anticipates later sermons of John Donne that served to promote 'an interrogative conscience'.
A world of difference: religion, literary form, and the negotiation of conflict in early modern England
Jonathan Baldo and Isabel Karremann
This book explores the specific ways available to mediate religious conflict, precisely because faith still mattered more than many other social paradigms emerging at that time, such as nationhood or race. It also explores a range of literary and theatrical forms as means of mediating religious conflict in early modern England. The book focuses on this issue from a variety of angles: the representation of Catholic figures in post-Reformation texts and contexts and the survival and ongoing importance of Catholic ritual as a mode of experience and of representation. Another angle is the drama's engagement of the audience in and beyond confessional conflict, especially by exploring religious pluralization and its irenic potential. This includes the possibility that the perception of multiple religious positions may support the practice of mediation rather than exacerbate conflict and reinforce divisions.