5 Commitments in Early Modern Literary Studies ca. 2005

I’m reading back through this wonderful compilation of literary theory re: the Renaissance called Reconceiving the Renaissance (2005). The book is a decade old this year.

The book aims to collect under six different headings the wide variety of literary criticism about the period. That is, instead of divvying up Renaissance criticism into a series of critical ISMs, the book gives us central concepts and all the contributions literary theorists of any stripe have helped give it.

Reading through it, it already feels like the Introduction is dated. The scholarly “what’s hot” cycle burns so bright and so fast now that it’s difficult to keep something in vogue long enough to print a book about it. Some glaring omissions? Green/Eco studies, cognitive science, the return of the spiritual: these are just three that come to mind.

But this is a reasonable place to find first principles, and while the particular of interpretation may have changed, the commitments that produced those interpretations haven’t. Let’s take a closer look…

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5 Commitments in Early Modern Literary Studies ca. 2005