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Cultural Aesthetics

Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament

A brilliant postmodern critique of Renaissance subjectivity, Cultural Aesthetics explores the simultaneous formation and fragmentation of aristocratic "selfhood" in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Patricia Fumerton situates the self within its sumptuous array of "trivial" arts—including the court literatures of chivalric romance, sonnet, and masque and the arts of architecture, miniature painting, stage design, and cuisine. Her integration of historicist and aesthetic perspectives makes this a provocative contribution to the vigorous field of Renaissance cultural studies.

287 pages | 34 halftones, 4 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1991

History: British and Irish History

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Introduction: A Still Life: Clock, Jewel, Orange
The Paradigm
The Paradigm of Truncation: Culture as Fragment
From the Fragmentary to the Peripheral and Ornamental
Cultural Aesthetics
2. Exchanging Gifts: The Elizabethan Currency of Children and Romance
The Ring of Gift
The Ring of Elizabeth
The Threat of the Irish
The Poetics of Exchange: Spenser’s Garden of Adonis
At the Poem’s Periphery: The Dedication
Toward the Interior Cosmos
3. Secret Arts: Elizabethan Miniatures and Sonnets
Publishing the Miniature: "In small volumes, in private matter"
Hilliard’s Secret Art of Limning
Publishing the Sonnet: "Such Secret thoughts as fit not euery sight"
Sidney’s "Ground" of Poetry
After Hilliard and Sidney: "Within the loue-limn’d tablet of mine heart"
4. Consuming the Void: Jacobean Banquets and Masques
Rooms Apart of Sweet Conceits: Toward an Aesthetics of Detachment
The Void of Self
James’s Banqueting House and the Masque
Oberon in Perspective: The Annunciation of Self
Tearing Down the Masque: Toward an Aesthetics of Consumerism
5. The Veil of Topicality: Trade and Ornament in Neptune’s Triumph
Strange Trade: Foreign Currency and the East India Company
Eating Interests: Ormuz
Dressing up Trade: Neptune’s Triumph for the Return of Albion
Curtain Call: The Veil of Topicality

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