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Fault Lines and Controversies in the Study of Seventeenth-Century English Literature

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Overview

Written by various experts in the field, this volume of thirteen original essays explores some of the most significant theoretical and practical fault lines and controversies in seventeenth-century English literature. The turn into the twenty-first century is an appropriate time to take stock of the state of the field, and, as part of that stock-taking, the need arises to assess both where literary study of the early modern period has been and where it might desirably go. Hence, many of the essays in this collection look both backward and forward. They chart the changes in the field over the past half century, while also looking forward to more change in the future.
            Some of the essays collected here explore the points of friction, vulnerability, and division that have emerged in literary study of all periods at the end of the twentieth century, such as theory, gender, sexuality, race, and religion. Others are more narrowly focused on fault lines and controversies peculiar to the study of Renaissance and seventeenth-century literature. At the same time nearly all of these essays examine and illuminate particular works of literature. They engage theory, but they also illustrate their points concretely by enacting practical criticism of works by authors ranging from Bacon to Milton. What emerges from the collection is a sense of the field’s dynamism and vitality. The dominant mood of the essays is a cautious optimism, and, while the contributors are by no means complacent, they all share a belief that the fault lines that have emerged in the field are variously and valuably instructive. 
By exposing these fault lines the essayists seek a means of acknowledging differences and disagreements without covering them up. They also constructively suggest ways of addressing the issues as a prerequisite to bridging them. By broaching some of the most significant questions that animate the study of early modern literature at the turn into a new century, this volume will be of great value to any student or scholar of seventeenth-century literature.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826214232
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors
Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth are both William E. Stirton Professors in the Humanities and Professors Emeriti of English at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. They have coedited numerous works, including The English Civil Wars in the Literary Imagination, Representing Women in Renaissance England, and Literary Circles and Cultural Communities in Renaissance England (all available from the University of Missouri Press).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
"What Is Truth?": Defining and Defending Theoretical Pluralism 10
The Ahistoricism of the New Historicism: Knowledge as Power versus Power as Knowledge in Bacon's New Atlantis 22
Conjecture in the Writing of Donne's Biography, with a Modest Proposal 50
Marvell's "Mower against Gardens": Reconsidering Bakhtinian Dialogism 62
In Defense of Empson: A Reassessment of Milton's God 73
Milton and Dryden on the Restoration Stage 88
Profession or Performance? Religion in Early Modern Literary Study 111
John Donne and the Socinian Heresy 130
Critical Directions in the Study of Early Modern Sermons 140
The Poets of the Renaissance; or, The Illusions of My Youth 156
Donne on Love: Sometimes the End Just Doesn't Justify the Means 170
"The Explication of Whiteness and Blackness": Skin Color and the Physics of Color in the Works of Robert Boyle and Margaret Cavendish 187
Milton's Lady and Lady Milton: Chastity, Prophecy, and Gender in A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle 204
Notes on Contributors 227
Index 231
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