logo for University of Minnesota Press
From Ancient Myth to Tragic Modernity
Mitchell Greenberg
University of Minnesota Press, 2009

A study of all of the major tragedies of Jean Racine, France's preeminent dramatist-and, according to many, its greatest and most representative author-Mitchell Greenberg's work offers an exploration of Racinian tragedy to explain the enigma of the plays' continued fascination.

Greenberg shows how Racine uses myth, in particular the legend of Oedipus, to achieve his emotional power. In the seventeenth-century tragedies of Racine, almost all references to physical activity were banned from the stage. Yet contemporary accounts of the performances describe vivid emotional reactions of the audiences, who were often reduced to tears. Greenberg demonstrates how Racinian tragedy is ideologically linked to Absolutist France's attempt to impose the "order of the One" on its subjects. Racine's tragedies are spaces where the family and the state are one and the same, with the result that sexual desire becomes trapped in a closed, incestuous, and highly formalized universe.

Greenberg ultimately suggests that the politics and sexuality associated with the legend of Oedipus account for our attraction to charismatic leaders and that this confusion of the state with desire explains our continued fascination with these timeless tragedies.


front cover of Religious Materiality in the Early Modern World
Religious Materiality in the Early Modern World
Suzanna Ivanic
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
This collection of essays offers a comparative perspective on religious materiality across the early modern world. Setting out from the premise that artefacts can provide material evidence of the nature of early modern religious practices and beliefs, the volume tests and challenges conventional narratives of change based on textual sources. Religious Materiality in the Early Modern World brings together scholars of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist practices from a range of fields, including history, art history, museum curatorship and social anthropology. The result is an unprecedented account of the wealth and diversity of devotional objects and environments, with a strong emphasis on cultural encounters, connections and exchanges.

front cover of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Gift in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art
Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Gift in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art
Michael Zell
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
This book offers a new perspective on the art of the Dutch Golden Age by exploring the interaction between the gift's symbolic economy of reciprocity and obligation and the artistic culture of early modern Holland. Gifts of art were pervasive in seventeenth-century Europe and many Dutch artists, like their counterparts elsewhere, embraced gift giving to cultivate relations with patrons, art lovers, and other members of their social networks. Rembrandt also created distinctive works to function within a context of gift exchange, and both Rembrandt and Vermeer engaged the ethics of the gift to identify their creative labor as motivated by what contemporaries called a "love of art," not materialistic gain. In the merchant republic's vibrant market for art, networks of gift relations and the anti-economic rhetoric of the gift mingled with the growing dimension of commerce, revealing a unique chapter in the interconnected history of gift giving and art making.

logo for Harvard University Press
Remember, Remember
A Cultural History of Guy Fawkes Day
James Sharpe
Harvard University Press, 2005

In the early hours of November 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes, an English Catholic who had served with the Spanish army in Flanders, was discovered in a storeroom under the Palace of Westminster—and with him, thirty-six barrels of gunpowder earmarked to obliterate England’s royal family, top officials, and members of Parliament gathered for Parliament’s opening day. Had it succeeded, this Gunpowder Plot—a Catholic conspiracy against the recently crowned Protestant King James I and his government—English history would have been shaped by a terrorist act of unprecedented proportions.

Today Guy Fawkes—whose name has long stood for the conspiracy—is among the most notorious figures in English history; and Bonfire Night, observed every November 5th to memorialize the narrowly foiled Gunpowder Plot, is one of the country’s most festive occasions. Why has the memory of this act of treason and terrorism persisted for 400 years? In Remember, Remember James Sharpe takes us back to 1605 and teases apart the tangled web of religion and politics that gave rise to the plot. And, with considerable wit, he shows how celebration of that fateful night, and the representation of Guy Fawkes, has changed over the centuries.

James Sharpe’s colorfully told story has wide implications. The plot of 1605 has powerful resonances today, in a time of heightened concern about ideological conflict, religious fanaticism, and terrorism. And his account of the festivities marking the momentous event comments on the role of rituals in constructing national histories.


front cover of Representing the Troubles in Irish Short Fiction
Representing the Troubles in Irish Short Fiction
Michael L. Storey
Catholic University of America Press, 2004
Representing the Troubles in Irish Short Fiction offers a comprehensive examination of Irish short stories written over the last eighty years that have treated the Troubles, Ireland's intractable conflict that arose out of its relationship to England.

front cover of The Republic of Arabic Letters
The Republic of Arabic Letters
Islam and the European Enlightenment
Alexander Bevilacqua
Harvard University Press, 2020

Winner of the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize
A Longman–History Today Book Prize Finalist
A Sheik Zayed Book Award Finalist
Winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize
A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year

“Deeply thoughtful…A delight.”—The Economist

“[A] tour de force…Bevilacqua’s extraordinary book provides the first true glimpse into this story…He, like the tradition he describes, is a rarity.”
New Republic

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a pioneering community of Western scholars laid the groundwork for the modern understanding of Islamic civilization. They produced the first accurate translation of the Qur’an, mapped Islamic arts and sciences, and wrote Muslim history using Arabic sources. The Republic of Arabic Letters is the first account of this riveting lost period of cultural exchange, revealing the profound influence of Catholic and Protestant intellectuals on the Enlightenment understanding of Islam.

“A closely researched and engrossing study of…those scholars who, having learned Arabic, used their mastery of that difficult language to interpret the Quran, study the career of Muhammad…and introduce Europeans to the masterpieces of Arabic literature.”
—Robert Irwin, Wall Street Journal

“Fascinating, eloquent, and learned, The Republic of Arabic Letters reveals a world later lost, in which European scholars studied Islam with a sense of affinity and respect…A powerful reminder of the ability of scholarship to transcend cultural divides, and the capacity of human minds to accept differences without denouncing them.”
—Maya Jasanoff

“What makes his study so groundbreaking, and such a joy to read, is the connection he makes between intellectual history and the material history of books.”
Financial Times


front cover of Rivall Friendship, by Bridget Manningham
Rivall Friendship, by Bridget Manningham
Edited by Jean R. Brink
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2021

The manuscript for Rivall Friendship was first acquired by the Newberry Library in 1937. At the time of the acquisition, the author of this seventeenth-century romance was anonymous. Scholar Jean R. Brink now suggests, based on dating of the manuscript and her analysis of its feminist themes, that the author was a woman. Specifically, Brink attributes the text to Bridget Manningham, who was the older sister of Thomas Manningham, a Jacobean and Caroline bishop, and the granddaughter of John Manningham, a diarist who recorded performances of Shakespeare’s plays. 

Rivall Friendship is a post–English Civil War romance that examines proto-feminist issues, such as patriarchal dominance in the family and marriage. Manningham is scrupulous about maintaining verisimilitude, and unlike more fantastical romances of the period that feature monsters, giants, and magic, this text aspires to a level of probability in its historical and geographical details. The text of Rivall Friendship is accessible to most modern readers, particularly to students and scholars accustomed to working with seventeenth-century texts.


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter