This collection gathers new essays by critics and scholars who are currently reshaping our sense of the function and nature of seventeenth-century poetry. Contributors return to the New Critical canon of Renaissance poetry with fresh perspectives that emphasize considerations of gender, ideology, power, and language.
In the first group of essays, David Norbrook, Annabel Patterson, John Guillory, Rosemary Kegl, and Stephen Orgel explore the various ways in which a text can be "political." Next, Arthur Marotti, Jane Tylus, and Jonathan Goldberg consider the circumstances of textual production and reception in the seventeenth century. Finally, Stanley Fish, Gordon Braden, Michael C. Schoenfeldt, and Maureen Quilligan discuss the particular forms of anxiety that result when seventeenth-century poets modify the traditional rhetoric of sexual desire to serve what seem to be erotic or religious purposes.
These essays, accompanied by an extensive editors' introduction, intersect less in their shared enthusiasm for particular authors or interpretative methods than in a common interest in particular critical issues. They present the most exciting work by critics redefining Renaissance studies.