Words, Signs, and Feelings
Adele Kudish – John Lyly’s Anatomy of Wit as an Example of Early Modern Psychological Fiction
Abstract: John Lyly developed the prose style that would become known as euphuism, named after the main character in his Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and his England (1580). The term ‘euphuism’ signifies the use of paradoxical and self-correcting language, while its spokespersons express a great deal of self-doubt and contradiction. We can conjecture that Lyly intended his ironic, detailed examination of ‘wit’ to dissect both the intellect and its often-inconsistent manoeuvrings, revealing a cynical view of human behaviour. In this article, I re-read The Anatomy of Wit in the context of a larger body of what I call proto-psychological fiction. I argue that certain early modern texts, of which Lyly’s is a strong example, share tropes and motifs that indicate the author’s interest in the workings of human psychology avant la lettre, and more specifically, of a pessimistic strain of thought that is critical of self-awareness and doubtful of our ability to be guided by reason.
Adele Kudish, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Lisa Tagliaferri – ‘A Gentlewoman of the Courte’: Introducing and Translating the Court Lady
Abstract: Baldassarre Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier was a bestseller of the Renaissance period, inspiring an English translation by Thomas Hoby. Both texts include an extended discussion of the Court Lady, cultivate a female readership, and claim to have been written in part due to the intervention of ladies. However, the introductory materials written by both the Italian author and the author of the English translation render the role of the Court Lady contradictory and unclear, illustrative of the ideal described in Book III that is impossible to achieve, much like the ideal of the Courtier himself. Ultimately a vassal of the prince, the Courtier is in a position in which he must gain power chiefly through persuasion, and the books too have an interconnected power relationship with the women behind their respective publications. Through this grounding that yields the accountability for the works to women, both Castiglione and Hoby are able to appeal to Ladies and instruct them within the bodies of their texts, simultaneously affording them power and tempering it. By acting on the implicit suggestions of women and mixing inflated commendation of them with slight and nuanced disparagement, Castiglione and Hoby are able to convey a complicated relationship between two disenfranchised groups trying to negotiate their authority by both granting and withdrawing power from the other.
Lisa Tagliaferri, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Volume 3 Essay Prize Winner
Anastasia Aleksandrovna Preobrazhenskaya – ‘Cast Thy Burden upon the Lord, and He Shall Sustain Thee’: Consolatory Letter-practices at the Muscovy Tzar Court (second half of the seventeenth century)
Abstract: Consolation in Orthodox Christianity, tightly bound with the idea of death, was traditionally included within the scope of religious and church practices, and constituted a distinct consolatory discourse. Preachers and parish priests consoled relatives of deceased persons with their sermons, quoting verses from the New Testament (e.g. Matthew 9.24, Phil 1.23, Jn 11.25, etc.), and by engaging laity in oral consolation discourses in private conversations. Ecclesiastic authorities created consolatory epistles that functioned as a written substitute for spoken dialogue and were addressed to tzars and princes, sometimes to fellow clergymen, and in later periods – to laity. However, consolatory discourse was not solely a verbal practice, though the verbal aspect constituted a large part of it. In general, consolation encompassed icons (icons depicting the Virgin Mary, mainly of the Eleusa type, Ἐλεούσα), accompanying liturgical texts (kondaks, acathistoses, troparions), and corresponding parts of the Old and New Testaments, read during liturgies and included in sermons and literature. In the canons and decrees of the Sixth Ecumenical Council it was stated that, ‘Depiction is inseparable from the Gospel, and vice versa the Gospel is iconic […] What is communicated by a word through hearing, iconography shows silently, through depiction.’ The verbal part of the discourse being the most powerful and the most commonly used was built upon three principal biblical figures and associated motifs: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Mary. By referring to ‘God the Father’, the inevitability of death and its necessity in accordance with the divine plan was explained; Jesus Christ was referred as an example of a positive aspect of death for a faithful Christian; and the Virgin Mary was probably the most important figure for Orthodox consolation, symbolizing protection and comfort.
Anastasia A. Preobrazhenskaya, National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Matthew Firth – Allegories of Sight: Blinding and Power in Late Anglo-Saxon England
Abstract: The practical necessity of sight to effective participation in Anglo-Saxon life is reflected in the multifaceted depictions of punitive blinding in late Anglo-Saxon literature. As a motif of empowerment or disempowerment, acts of blinding permeate the histories and hagiographies of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and each narrative mode illuminates different societal attitudes to the practice. These narratives reflect a social discomfort and lack of evidence for a prevalent culture of punitive blinding, alongside a growing acceptance in late Anglo-Saxon England of the measure as a practical penalty. As a codified legal punishment, blinding was reserved for recidivist criminals: mutilation punished while preserving the soul for the redemption of repentance. An eleventh-century legal innovation, the histories and chronicles relating events of this period similarly display a growing acceptance of blinding as a practical expedient deprivation of personal political agency. In contrast, the trope of blinding in hagiographical narrative frequently displays a social commentary that opposes these political and legal powers. Blindings, attempted blindings and healings are motifs used to correct the wrongs of temporal agents and bestow God’s favour upon a saint. The conflicting narratives demonstrate the conflicted attitude to blinding inherent in a culture that considered sight as a vehicle for power.
Matthew Firth, University of New England
Volume 3 Essay Prize Winner
Jesús Rodríguez Viejo – Royal manuscript patronage in late Ducal Normandy? A context for the female patron portrait of the Fecamp Psalter (c. 1180)
Abstract: The Fécamp Psalter is a Norman illuminated manuscript produced around the year 1180. It contains a portrait of its patron kneeling in prayer and turned towards the Beatus page. This person is to be identified with a high-ranking woman of the Angevin state. Her appearance and her position in the manuscript, together with certain related contemporary visual examples, permit us to hypothesize about her identity. The study of this artistic commission also helps us to understand better the processes of patronage that operated between individuals and monastic houses in twelfth-century Europe, and enriches our understanding of the concepts of female self-awareness and biblical pre-figuration in medieval art.
Jesús Rodriguez Viejo, University of Edinburgh
Kendra Preston Leonard – Listening to the Gaoler’s Daughter
Abstract: In this essay, I explore the concept of madness in relation to the Gaoler’s Daughter in Two Noble Kinsmen. By examining her supposed madness in the context of music and disordered vocality expressed through song; in light of the idea that one might talk oneself out of the suffering of emotional trauma to wellness; and in terms of her social class, I offer a new interpretation of the character’s behavior. I argue that her music is not mad, but rather a specifically ordered collection of songs that she uses both as a means of communication with others and as a device to work through her emotions and find resolution to her situation.
Kendra Preston Leonard, Silent Film Sound and Music Archive
Alessandra Petrocchi – Mercantile Arithmetic in Renaissance Italy: A Translation and Study of a Vernacular Abbaco Work
Abstract: This essay is a study of a Renaissance Italian manuscript which has been published under the title Arte Giamata Aresmetica (‘The Art Called Arithmetic’). This represents a type of mathematical text called Libro d’Abbaco or ‘Abbacus Book’, which was produced in large numbers during the Italian Renaissance (thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries CE). This paper provides the first translation into English of selected passages and an analysis of the algorithms found in this work. The style of presentation, the vocabulary used, and the mathematical procedures explained in Arte Giamata Aresmetica reveal some features that deserve scholarly attention. Aresmetica is a valuable source for the history of Renaissance business and culture as it provides insight into how merchants operated, the mathematical ability and the mind‐set they had to develop, as well as revealing economic information pertaining to that period (prices, products, and various measuring units).
Alessandra Petrocchi, University of Cambridge
Gail Ashton, ed., Medieval Afterlives in Contemporary Culture (Grace Catherine Greiner)
Gail Ashton, ed., Medieval Afterlives in Contemporary Culture (London: Bloomsbury, 2015). Print, 368 pp., US$176.00, ISBN: 9781441129604.
Reviewed by: Grace Catherine Greiner, Cornell University
Simon Barton, Conquerors, Brides, and Concubines: Interfaith Relations and Social Power in Medieval Iberia (Emily Keyes)
Simon Barton, Conquerors, Brides, and Concubines: Interfaith Relations and Social Power in Medieval Iberia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). Print, 280 pp., US$59.95, ISBN: 9780812246759.
Reviewed by: Emily Keyes, University of Leeds
Ann Christys, Vikings in the South: Voyages to Iberia and the Mediterranean (Marcus Harmes)
Ann Christys, Vikings in the South: Voyages to Iberia and the Mediterranean (London: Bloomsbury, 2015). Print, 152 pp., US$39.95, ISBN: 9781474213752.
Reviewed by: Marcus K. Harmes, University of Southern Queensland
Barry Cunliffe, By Steppe, Desert and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia (John Edmund Latham)
Sir Barry Cunliffe, By Steppe, Desert and Ocean: the Birth of Eurasia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). Print, 530 pp., US$40.00, ISBN: 9780199689170.
Reviewed by: John Latham, University of London
Ulrike Draesner, Nibelungen . Heimsuchung (Stephanie Hathaway)
Ulrike Draesner, Nibelungen . Heimsuchung. With illustrations by Carl Otto Czeschka (Ditzingen: Reclam, 2016). Print, 132 pp., €39.95, ISBN: 9783150110058.
Reviewed by: Stephanie L. Hathaway, University of Oxford
Theodore Evergates, Henry the Liberal Count of Champagne, 1127–1181 (Melissa Tu)
Theodore Evergates, Henry the Liberal Count of Champagne, 1127–1181 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). Print, 320 pp., US$75.00, ISBN: 9780812247909.
Reviewed by: Melissa Tu, Yale University
Timothy Fuller, ed., Machiavelli’s Legacy: The Prince After Five Hundred Years (Tara Auty)
Timothy Fuller, ed., Machiavelli’s Legacy: The Prince After Five Hundred Years (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). Print, 216pp., US$47.50, ISBN: 9780812247695
Reviewed by: Tara Auty, University of Western Australia
Melissa Lee Hyde and Katie Scott, eds., Rococo Echo: Art, History and Historiography from Cochin to Coppola (Melanie Cooper)
Melissa Lee Hyde and Katie Scott, eds., Rococo Echo: Art, History and Historiography from Cochin to Coppola (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, Oxford Studies in the Enlightenment, 2014). Print 398 pp.,£65.00, ISBN: 9780729411158.
Reviewed by: Melanie Cooper, University of Adelaide
Jeffrey Masten, Queer Philologies: Sex, Language, and Affect in Shakespeare’s Time (Jeffrey Neil Weiner)
Jeffrey Masten, Queer Philologies: Sex, Language, and Affect in Shakespeare’s Time (Philadelphia: U. of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). Print, 353pp., US$59.95, ISBN:9780812247862.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Neil Weiner, University of California, Davis
Patricia Cox Miller, The Corporeal Imagination: Signifying the Holy in Late Ancient Christianity (David W. Kim)
Patricia Cox Miller, The Corporeal Imagination: Signifying the Holy in Late Ancient Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009). Print, 272 pp., US$49.95, ISBN: 9780812241426.
Reviewed by: David W. Kim, Australian National University
Jaclyn Rajsic, Erik Kooper and Dominique Hoche, eds., The Prose Brut and Other Late Medieval Chronicles. Books Have Their Histories: Essays in Honour of Lister M. Matheson (Trevor Russell Smith)
Jaclyn Rajsic, Erik Kooper and Dominique Hoche, eds., The Prose Brut and Other Late Medieval Chronicles. Books Have Their Histories: Essays in Honour of Lister M. Matheson (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press, 2016). Print, 272pp., 11 b/w ill., £60.00, ISBN: 9781903153666.
Reviewed by: Trevor Russell Smith, University of Leeds
Sheila Sweetinburgh, ed., Negotiating the Political in Northern European Urban Society, c.1400–c.1600 (Stephen Basdeo)
Sheila Sweetinburgh, ed., Negotiating the Political in Northern European Urban Society, c.1400–c.1600 (Tempe, Arizona: Brepols, 2013). Print, 212 pp., €55.00, ISBN: 9782503546667
Reviewed by: Stephen Basdeo, Leeds Trinity University
Claire M. Waters, Translating Clergie: Status, Education, and Salvation in Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Texts (Stephanie Hathaway)
Claire M. Waters, Translating Clergie: Status, Education, and Salvation in Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Texts (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). Print, 312 pp.,£45.50, ISBN: 978081227725.
Reviewed by: Stephanie L. Hathaway, University of Oxford
Featured Image: The Tiburtine Sibyl meets Augustus, Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl, c. 1475-1480, Städelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, Frankfurt.