Changing Identities in Early Modern France offers new interpretations of what it meant to be French during a period of profound transition, from the outbreak of the Hundred Years War to the consolidation of the Bourbon monarchy in the seventeenth century. As medieval notions were gradually replaced by new definitions of the state, society, and family, dynastic struggles and religious wars raised questions about loyalty and identity and destabilized the meaning of "Frenchness." After examining the interplay between competing ideologies and public institutions, from the monarchy to the Parlement of Paris to the aristocratic household, the volume explores the dynamics of deviance and dissent, particularly in regard to women’s roles in religious reform movements and such sensationalized phenomena as the witch hunts and infanticide trials. Concluding essays examine how regional and confessional identities reshaped French identity in response to the discovery of the New World and the spectacular spread of Calvinism.
Contributors. Charmarie Blaisdell, William Bouwsma, Lawrence M. Bryant, Denis Crouzet, Robert Descimon, Barbara B. Diefendorf, Richard M. Golden, Sarah Hanley, Mack P. Holt, Donald R. Kelley, Kristen B. Neuschel, J. H. M. Salmon, Zachary Sayre Schiffman, Silvia Shannon, Alfred Soman, Michael Wolfe
An Errant Eye studies how topography, the art of describing local space and place, developed literary and visual form in early modern France. Arguing for a "new poetics of space" ranging throughout French Renaissance poetry, prose, and cartography, Tom Conley performs dazzling readings of maps, woodcuts, and poems to plot a topographical shift in the late Renaissance in which space, subjectivity, and politics fall into crisis. He charts the paradox of a period whose demarcation of national space through cartography is rendered unstable by an ambient world of printed writing.
This tension, Conley demonstrates, cuts through literature and graphic matter of various shapes and forms-hybrid genres that include the comic novel, the emblem-book, the eclogue, sonnets, and the personal essay. An Errant Eye differs from historical treatments of spatial invention through Conley's argument that the topographic sensibility is one in which the ocular faculty, vital to the description of locale, is endowed with tact and touch.
Detailed close readings of Apian, Rabelais, Montaigne, and others empower the reader with a lively sense of the topographical impulse, deriving from Conley's own "errant eye," which is singularly discerning in attentiveness to the ambiguities of charted territory, the contours of woodcut images, and the complex combinations of word and figure in French Renaissance poetry, emblem, and politics.
Involuntary Confessions of the Flesh in Early Modern France was inspired by the observation that small slips of the flesh (involuntary confessions of the flesh) are omnipresent in early modern texts of many kinds. These slips (which bear similarities to what we would today call the Freudian slip) disrupt and destabilize readings of body, self, and text—three categories whose mutual boundaries this book seeks to soften—but also, in their very messiness, participate in defining them. Involuntary Confessions capitalizes on the uncertainty of such volatile moments, arguing that it is instability itself that provides the tools to navigate and understand the complexity of the early modern world. Rather than locate the body within any one discourse (Foucauldian, psychoanalytic), this book argues that slips of the flesh create a liminal space not exactly outside of discourse, but not necessarily subject to it, either. Involuntary confessions of the flesh reveal the perpetual and urgent challenge of early modern thinkers to textually confront and define the often tenuous relationship between the body and the self. By eluding and frustrating attempts to contain it, the early modern body reveals that truth is as much about surfaces as it is about interior depth, and that the self is fruitfully perpetuated by the conflict that proceeds from seemingly irreconcilable narratives.
Interdisciplinary in its scope, Involuntary Confessions of the Flesh in Early Modern France pairs major French literary works of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (by Marguerite de Navarre, Montaigne, Madame de Lafayette) with cultural documents (confession manuals, legal documents about the application of torture, and courtly handbooks). It is the first study of its kind to bring these discourses into thematic (rather than linear or chronological) dialog. In so doing, it emphasizes the shared struggle of many different early modern conversations to come to terms with the body’s volatility.
Published by University of Delaware Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
In this groundbreaking new study, Kate van Orden examines noble education in the arts to show how music contributed to cultural and social transformation in early modern French society. She constructs a fresh account of music's importance in promoting the absolutism that the French monarchy would fully embrace under Louis XIV, uncovering many hitherto unpublished ballets and royal ceremonial performances.
The great pressure on French noblemen to take up the life of the warrior gave rise to bellicose art forms such as sword dances and equestrian ballets. Far from being construed as effeminizing, such combinations of music and the martial arts were at once refined and masculine-a perfect way to display military prowess. The incursion of music into riding schools and infantry drills contributed materially to disciplinary order, enabling the larger and more effective armies of the seventeenth century. This book is a history of the development of these musical spheres and how they brought forth new cultural priorities of civility, military discipline, and political harmony. Music, Discipline, and Arms in Early Modern France effectively illustrates the seminal role music played in mediating between the cultural spheres of letters and arms.
In a book addressing those interested in the transformation of monarchy into the modern state and in intersections of gender and political power, Katherine Crawford examines the roles of female regents in early modern France.
The reigns of child kings loosened the normative structure in which adult males headed the body politic, setting the stage for innovative claims to authority made on gendered terms. When assuming the regency, Catherine de Médicis presented herself as dutiful mother, devoted widow, and benign peacemaker, masking her political power. In subsequent regencies, Marie de Médicis and Anne of Austria developed strategies that naturalized a regendering of political structures. They succeeded so thoroughly that Philippe d’Orleans found that this rhetoric at first supported but ultimately undermined his authority. Regencies demonstrated that power did not necessarily work from the places, bodies, or genders in which it was presumed to reside.
While broadening the terms of monarchy, regencies involving complex negotiations among child kings, queen mothers, and royal uncles made clear that the state continued regardless of the king—a point not lost on the Revolutionaries or irrelevant to the fate of Marie-Antoinette.
The concept of obscenity is an ancient one. But as Joan DeJean suggests, its modern form, the same version that today's politicians decry and savvy artists exploit, was invented in seventeenth-century France.
The Reinvention of Obscenity casts a fresh light on the mythical link between sexual impropriety and things French. Exploring the complicity between censorship, print culture, and obscenity, DeJean argues that mass market printing and the first modern censorial machinery came into being at the very moment that obscenity was being reinvented—that is, transformed from a minor literary phenomenon into a threat to society. DeJean's principal case in this study is the career of Moliére, who cannily exploited the new link between indecency and female genitalia to found his career as a print author; the enormous scandal which followed his play L'école des femmes made him the first modern writer to have his sex life dissected in the press.
Keenly alert to parallels with the currency of obscenity in contemporary America, The Reinvention of Obscenity will concern not only scholars of French history, but anyone interested in the intertwined histories of sex, publishing, and censorship.
The Self-Made Map argues that during the Renaissance in France a "new cartographic impulse" affected both the "graphic and imaginary forms of literature." In this wide-ranging and fascinating work, Tom Conley demonstrates that as new maps were plotted during this period, a new sense of self emerged, one defined in part by the relationship of the self to space.
Conley traces the explosion of interest in mapmaking that occurred with the discovery of the New World, and discusses the commensurate rise of what he defines as cartographic writing-writing that "holds, penetrates, delineates, and explores space." Considering the works of such writers as Rabelais, Montaigne, and Descartes, Conley provides a "navigation" through the printed page, revealing the emerging values of Renaissance France. In his examination of the placing of words, letters, and graphic elements in books, he exposes the playful and sometimes enigmatic relation between spatial organization and text.
Conley also exposes the ideological exercise inherent in mapmaking, arguing that Renaissance cartography is inseparably bound up with the politics of the era. He undertakes close readings of maps and illustrations, discussing the necessity of viewing Renaissance maps in the context of their typographic layout, graphic reproduction, and literary and ideological import.
Richly illustrated throughout, The Self-Made Map combines studies of art, geography, history, literature, and printing to show a clear historical transformation, along the way linking geographical discoveries, printing processes, and political awareness. Conley's provocative analysis discloses how early modern printed literature and cartography worked together to crystallize broader issues engaging the then emergent status of cultural identity, nation, and individuality.
The cultural battle known as the Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns served as a sly cover for more deeply opposed views about the value of literature and the arts. One of the most public controversies of early modern Europe, the Quarrel has most often been depicted as pitting antiquarian conservatives against the insurgent critics of established authority. The Shock of the Ancient turns the canonical vision of those events on its head by demonstrating how the defenders of Greek literature—rather than clinging to an outmoded tradition—celebrated the radically different practices of the ancient world.
At a time when the constraints of decorum and the politics of French absolutism quashed the expression of cultural differences, the ancient world presented a disturbing face of otherness. Larry F. Norman explores how the authoritative status of ancient Greek texts allowed them to justify literary depictions of the scandalous. The Shock of the Ancient surveys the diverse array of aesthetic models presented in these ancient works and considers how they both helped to undermine the rigid codes of neoclassicism and paved the way for the innovative philosophies of the Enlightenment. Broadly appealing to students of European literature, art history, and philosophy, this book is an important contribution to early modern literary and cultural debates.
In Syphilis: Medicine, Metaphor, and Religious Conflict in Early Modern France, Deborah Losse examines how images of syphilis became central to Renaissance writing and reflected more than just the rapid spread of this new and poorly understood disease. Losse argues that early modern writers also connected syphilis with the wars of religion in sixteenth-century France. These writers, from reform-minded humanists to Protestant poets and Catholic polemicists, entered the debate from all sides by appropriating the disease as a metaphor for weakening French social institutions. Catholics and Protestants alike leveled the charge of paillardise (lechery) at one another. Losse demonstrates how they adopted the language of disease to attack each other’s politics, connecting diseased bodies with diseased doctrine.
Losse provides close readings of a range of genres, moving between polemical poetry, satirical narratives, dialogical colloquies, travel literature, and the personal essay. With chapters featuring Erasmus, Rabelais, Montaigne, Léry, and Agrippa d’Aubigné, this study compares literary descriptions of syphilis with medical descriptions. In the first full-length study of Renaissance writers’ engagement with syphilis, Deborah Losse charts a history from the most vehement rhetoric of the pox to a tenuous resolution of France’s conflicts, when both sides called for a return to order.
At one time in Europe, there was a point to pain: physical suffering could be a path to redemption. This religious notion suggested that truth was lodged in the body and could be achieved through torture. In Tortured Subjects, Lisa Silverman tells the haunting story of how this idea became a fixed part of the French legal system during the early modern period.
Looking closely at the theory and practice of judicial torture in France from 1600 to 1788, the year in which it was formally abolished, Silverman revisits dossiers compiled in criminal cases, including transcripts of interrogations conducted under torture, as well as the writings of physicians and surgeons concerned with the problem of pain, records of religious confraternities, diaries and letters of witnesses to public executions, and the writings of torture's abolitionists and apologists. She contends that torture was at the center of an epistemological crisis that forced French jurists and intellectuals to reconsider the relationship between coercion and sincerity, or between free will and evidence. As the philosophical consensus on which torture rested broke down, and definitions of truth and pain shifted, so too did the foundation of torture, until by the eighteenth century, it became an indefensible practice.
In The Written World:Space, Literature, and the Chorological Imagination in Early Modern France, Jeffrey N. Peters argues that geographic space may be understood as a foundational, originating principle of literary creation. By way of an innovative reading of chora, a concept developed by Plato in the Timaeus and often construed by philosophical tradition as “space,” Peters shows that canonical literary works of the French seventeenth century are guided by what he calls a “chorological” approach to artistic invention. The chorological imagination describes the poetic as a cosmological event that gives location to—or, more accurately, in Plato’s terms, receives—the world as an object of thought.
In analyses of well-known authors such as Corneille, Molière, Racine, and Madame de Lafayette, Peters demonstrates that the apparent absence of physical space in seventeenth-century literary depiction indicates a subtle engagement with, rather than a rejection of, evolving principles of cosmological understanding. Space is not absent in these works so much as transformed in keeping with contemporaneous developments in early modern natural philosophy. The Written World will appeal to philosophers of literature and literary theorists as well as scholars of early modern Europe and historians of science and geography