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Frame, Glass, Verse: The Technology of Poetic Invention in the English Renaissance
     

Frame, Glass, Verse: The Technology of Poetic Invention in the English Renaissance

by Rayna Kalas
 
In a book that draws attention to some of our most familiar and unquestioned habits of thought—from "framing" to "perspective" to "reflection"—Rayna Kalas suggests that metaphors of the poetic imagination were once distinctly material and technical in character. Kalas explores the visual culture of the English Renaissance by way of the poetic image, showing

Overview

In a book that draws attention to some of our most familiar and unquestioned habits of thought—from "framing" to "perspective" to "reflection"—Rayna Kalas suggests that metaphors of the poetic imagination were once distinctly material and technical in character. Kalas explores the visual culture of the English Renaissance by way of the poetic image, showing that English writers avoided charges of idolatry and fancy through conceits that were visual, but not pictorial. Frames, mirrors, and windows have been pervasive and enduring metaphors for texts from classical antiquity to modernity; as a result, those metaphors seem universally to emphasize the mimetic function of language, dividing reality from the text that represents it. This book dissociates those metaphors from their earlier and later formulations in order to demonstrate that figurative language was material in translating signs and images out of a sacred and iconic context and into an aesthetic and representational one. Reading specific poetic images—in works by Spenser, Shakespeare, Gascoigne, Bacon, and Nashe—together with material innovations in frames and glass, Kalas reveals both the immanence and the agency of figurative language in the early modern period.Frame, Glass, Verse shows, finally, how this earlier understanding of poetic language has been obscured by a modern idea of framing that has structured our apprehension of works of art, concepts, and even historical periods. Kalas presents archival research in the history of frames, mirrors, windows, lenses, and reliquaries that will be of interest to art historians, cultural theorists, historians of science, and literary critics alike. Throughout Frame, Glass, Verse, she challenges readers to rethink the relationship of poetry to technology.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In Frame, Glass, Verse, Rayna Kalas shows the way the mindset worked when poesis was still the same as techne. In the figurative language and its subtle complexity and multiple meanings of Renaissance literature, she finds the conceptual frame, the reflective mirror or 'perspective glass,' the power of prosody and what Coleridge was to call 'the esemplastic power of the imagination.' . . . The result is nothing less than a new window opening on Renaissance literature. We see through this 'magic casement,' as Keats put it, the way those texts were first intended to be seen, not distorted by our more modern ways of thought or ideas about the nature and use of literature which was constructed and intended as a 'through-shine' communication but created by minds rather unlike our twenty-first century ones."—Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

"In a book filled with compelling moments of insight and brilliance, Rayna Kalas argues for a 'Renaissance' wherein object and subject, thing and word, nature and craft are moving toward modern conceptualizations of separation but are at the same time very much involved with each other. Kalas juggles a number of conceptual balls, each of which has double or multiple meanings in the period-most important, 'frame,' 'glass'/'mirror,' and 'perspective'-showing in each case how more is going on than meets the modern eye. It is a difficult task but one that leads to fascinating observations and breathtaking readings of the Renaissance and its texts."—Patricia Fumerton, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Throughout Frame, Glass, Verse Rayna Kalas displays a formidable intellect coupled with unhurried exposition and painstaking attention to detail. The writing is lucid, graceful, authoritative, and felicitous throughout. Kalas brings to bear a wide range of pertinent critical commentary in art history, the history of the book, and continental Renaissance studies. Frame, Glass, Verse is obligatory reading for early modernists and has much to offer readers interested in the place of the Renaissance in cultural and philosophical history."—Jonathan Crewe, Willard Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Director, Leslie Center for the Humanities, Dartmouth College

"Sophisticated in its theoretical analyses, acute in its interpretations of texts ranging from Gascoigne's Steele Glas to the poetry of Shakespeare and Spenser, this book is important and illuminating. Its wide-ranging explorations encompass subjects from devotional practices to the visual arts, in so doing participating in the contemporary project of reinterpreting texts in relation to technical and artisanal practices."—Heather Dubrow, Tighe-Evans Professor and John Bascom Professor of English, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801445415
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
06/28/2007
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Rayna Kalas is Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University.

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