Aristotle’s Poetics has been thought to be inaccessible or misunderstood in sixteenth-century England, but this inherited assumption has drifted far from the primary evidence and lagged behind advances in contiguous fields. As a member of the corpus Aristotelicum, the shared foundation of Western education until the late seventeenth century, the Poetics enjoyed wide circulation, ownership, and interest in Latin and Italian as well as the original Greek. Placing the Poetics in its intellectual context suggests a very different narrative for its reception in English criticism, one that accounts for a multiplicity of readings and uses on both sides of the academic divide. Some of those readings—in Cheke, Ascham, Rainolds, Sidney, and others—are considered in this article, and directions are proposed for future research in what remains a rich and mostly unworked vein of literary history.
Marcy L. North
This article argues that the study of anonymity rightfully belongs in histories of the book and of authorship. After defining anonymity in terms of reader expectation and situating anonymity in print history, it details anonymity’s particular function in early modern satire wars and in satirical news publications, in which colorful pseudonyms both mapped out topical debates and linked new and old satires through familiar satirical traditions. The discussion of satire illustrates a methodology for the study of anonymity that combines autihorship theory, material conventionality, literary tradition, and book use. The article concludes with a survey of recent scholarship on anonymity.
This article reviews recent scholarly work on the connections between rhetoric and literature in the period 1500–1700. It describes the historicist turn in the wake of Brian Vickers’s In Defence of Rhetoric (1988) and uses the five canons of rhetoric (inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria, actio) to illustrate and extend recent methodological developments in the field. Through a series of case studies, the article outlines four principal future directions for the study of Renaissance rhetoric. First, it advocates a more context-specific analysis of rhetorical concepts. Second, it calls for more sustained attention to rhetoric as an art of argument (and therefore to its overlaps with dialectic and with scholastic forms of thought). Third, it argues for the importance of ecclesiastical and neo-Aristotelian handbooks of rhetoric. Fourth, it encourages consideration of the material dimensions of rhetorical theory and practice.
This article examines a number of the key political and philosophical questions in the poetry, drama, and philosophical treatises of Fulke Greville, first Lord Brooke (1554–1628), arguing that the philosophical complexity and linguistic obscurity for which Greville’s style is known offer an appropriate tool for the examination of some of his enduring intellectual preoccupations: the paradoxes of political power and the rise and fall of empires, examined in the choruses of his Ottoman closet drama Mustapha; and the examination of the mechanisms of idolatry and spiritual servitude that link the erotic poetry of the lyric sequence Caelica to the treatises on monarchy and religion. A Dedication to Sir Philip Sidney, Greville’s biography of his long-deceased friend, by contrast, offers a different perspective on political life and freedom, one that is constructed on Sidney’s exemplarity and modeled on the ethics of friendship.
The rich and expanding rhetorical universe of the English Renaissance annexed the expressive possibilities of painting and the plastic arts using a variety of figures and tropes. These—ekphrasis (intense description), blason (anatomizing description), paragone (the contest between the arts), and emblems and imprese (formal verbal-visual symbols)—allowed English writers to press the visual into the service of the verbal, creating powerful rhetorical tools and distinctive literary expression. This article describes the development of these verbal-visual tools from the late medieval period through the early seventeenth century by Italian art theorists and in the exemplary works of Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare.