You are here

Abstracts 96.3

Heather Bamford, "Material Love: Manuscript Culture in Prison Amoureuse and Cárcel de Amor"

This study examines the use of manuscript text in two medieval literary portrayals of love relationships in which male protagonists are trapped in “prisons of love”: Jean Froissart’s fourth and penultimate dit (narrative poem), the Prison Amoureuse (1372), hereafter Prison, and Diego de San Pedro’s (ca. 1437–ca. 1498) Cárcel de amor (Cárcel). Both Prison and Cárcel are literally comprised of the exchange of material texts; these texts, used in intellectual and talismanic ways, foster a close relationship between the male protagonists rather than a readily apparent love between lover and beloved. The male protagonists in both works are intimate friends and the success of both the love relationships and the relationships between those men relates directly to the protagonists’ ability to read. Women play only an inspirational and supportive role in Prison. Men in Cárcel are poor readers, while the male protagonists in Prison are skilled in hermeneutics, unhindered by a strong female reader. Whereas the metaphorical love prison in Prison, which is synonymous with the book, is “fair and amorous” and the tenor of the texts exchanged is positive, Cárcel’s allegorical prison is menacing and ultimately fatal for the lover. Through the reading and writing of their imprisoned male protagonists, and the relative absence or outright resistance of the beloveds, Prison and Cárcel evince a literary depiction of the range and permutations of attitudes, tastes, and practices that fall under medieval manuscript culture, including both successful and failed hermeneutic uses and both successful and failed talismanic employment of manuscript material.

Douglas Bruster and Nell McKeown, "Wordplay in Earliest Shakespeare"

Shakespeare’s wordplay is known to be a distinctive feature of his writing, yet compared to the works of his middle and later years, little attention has been paid to the unique puns and quibbles of his early period. This essay examines the distinguishing features of Shakespearean wordplay in such early works as Arden of Faversham, Edward III, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, the Henry VI trilogy, and various early sonnets. As many of these works are of contested attribution, we hope to demonstrate that wordplay characteristic of Shakespeare can be used to help clarify authorship and chronology. Various features of puns across these early works, such as self-awareness, punning by higher-register characters, a focus on proper names, punning in moments of distress, and homographic wordplay, point toward a distinctly Shakespearean style, and reveal a writer unable to resist the linguistic pleasure of a quibble.

Katie Jo LaRiviere​, "Lectio Divina and 'Profitability' in Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions"

Here I engage two critical questions regarding Donne’s Devotions: first, what is the Devotions, or, by what devotional tradition can we identify it? And second, how can we read it most “profitably”? I argue that the Devotions is best understood according to a medieval tradition of reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation known as lectio divina. Donne’s work closely imitates the devotional style of lectio divina in its structure, content, and rhetorical strategy. Rather than read the Devotions as “profitable,” we should instead consider its cyclical, receptive structure, and its striving to abandon the self into God’s “way.” As a participation in lectio, the Devotions indeed becomes a “holy delight,” a fruitful endeavor, rather than a product for our gain.

Clare Bucknell, "Luxury and Political Economy in Estate Poetry, 1670–1750"

The estate poem tends to be thought of as a seventeenth-century phenomenon. As a number of critics have argued, poems such as Jonson's "To Penshurst" and Carew's "To Saxham" represent a distinct early modern subgenre, dedicated to praising landowners for the virtuous manner in which they husband their estates and sustain local communities. Though estate poetry in fact continued to flourish as a branch of epideictic verse throughout the early and mid-eighteenth century, its afterlife has received very little critical attention. In this article, I look closely at a handful of Restoration and eighteenth-century estate poems, considering the ways in which later writers responded to the changing economic conditions of landownership and house building. In particular, I suggest that poets who adopted the estate poem framework in the eighteenth century used the imaginative space of the form to engage positively with strands of Enlightenment political economic thought.

Uttara Natarajan, "Ruskin on Imagination: A Via Negativa"

This essay relates Ruskin’s “pathetic fallacy” for the first time to his theory of the ideal as it develops in the course of the early volumes of Modern Painters. Beginning in Modern Painters I with a theory of art centred on the ideal, Ruskin is led, not through a break from, but an intensification of the key emphases of his own theory, to the rejection of idealism in the framing of “pathetic fallacy” in Modern Painters III. Analogous to the via naturaliter negativa, the path through nature to its negation, famously shown in Wordsworth’s poetry by Geoffrey Hartman, in Ruskin we might discern the opposite trajectory, through the ideal to its negation. In the version of realism that arises from that negation, Romantic imagination is superseded by a new emphasis on feeling, and Ruskin’s departure from his Romantic precursors is fully achieved.