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Andrew Gordon and Thomas Rist (eds), The Arts of Remembrance in Early Modern England: Memorial Cultures of the Post-Reformation (Ashgate, 2013)

Andrew Gordon and Thomas Rist (eds), The Arts of Remembrance in Early Modern England: Memorial Cultures of the Post Reformation (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013). ISBN: 978-1-4094-4657-6, 259 pp. + vii. £58.50.

Reviewed by Rebeca Helfer

gordon_series 2222 cover.QXD_the arts of remembrance[1] The Arts of Remembrance in Early Modern England: Memorial Cultures of the Post-Reformation offers an important contribution to the field of early modern memory studies. As Andrew Gordon and Thomas Rist explain in their excellent introduction on ‘The Arts of Remembrance’, this study explores the relationship between memory and creativity across a range of forms, and makes a case for the sheer prevalence and even ubiquity of memorial culture in early modern England. They argue, ‘The arts of remembrance were tangible, legible and visible everywhere in the early modern surrounds’, and the essays in the volume bear witness to this fact. In particular, this collection focuses on the relationship between the memory arts and post-Reformation theology, emphasizing transformations in modes of memorializing and the tensions between Catholicism and Protestantism therein. Indeed, this issue provides The Arts of Remembrance with a thematic unity that nevertheless does not limit its impressively wide-ranging exploration of memory in post-Reformation England.

[2] The Arts of Remembrance divides into three parts, the first of which examines the ‘Materials of Remembrance’. The opening chapter by Lucy Wooding on remembrance in relation to the Eucharist illustrates the tensions, the continuities and discontinuities, between Catholic and Protestant ways of memorializing the dead, the ways in which ‘pre-Reformation beliefs and practices were challenged, eroded, reconfigured or quietly retained in post-Reformation society’ (p. 20). Robert Tittler’s essay on portraiture and memory illustrates the use of portraits as ‘mnemonic devices’ directed toward the ‘visual recollection and interpretation of the past’ and that served a legitimating end for their patrons (p. 37). An essay on monumental fixtures and furnishings by Tara Hamling explores the materiality of memory, specifically the English domestic interior as a ‘site of remembrance in early modern England’, arguing that ‘traditional iconographies and visual forms of memorializing migrate from the church to the home in the post-Reformation era’ (p. 59). The final essay of this section, Oliver D. Harris’ essay on the materiality of memory involved in tracing lines of descent, contends that the ‘social mobility of the age’ gave rise to ‘the exaltation of ancestry, and its public expression on tomb monuments’ (p. 85, p. 87).

[3] Part II of the volume, entitled ‘Textual Rites’, contains four essays that examine textual representation of memory. Thomas Rist suggests in his essay on George Herbert’s materialist poetics of memory in The Temple that it at once ‘foregrounds the monumental materials of religion’ and also ‘presents a conflict over whether the place of such materials in religion should be metaphorical, real, or both these things simultaneously’ (p. 122). Tom Healy pursues John Foxe’s ‘art of remembrance’ in Acts and Monuments, and specifically the complex ways that he represents history in an attempt to ‘establish “remembrance” among his early modern readers’ (p. 128). Gerard Kilroy considers the competing accounts or textual memorial contest over ‘the execution of the first Jesuit martyr, Edmund Campion’ asserting that ‘the public … was convinced neither by the state’s rhetoric nor by its elaborately staged performances’ (p. 141, p. 159). Finally, Marie-Louise Coolahan’s essay explores the posthumous construction of female authorship, demonstrating how posthumous ‘acts of memorialization commemorate female literary activity [as] a form of life-writing that centres on the wife’s writing’ and revealing the ways in which ‘women’s writing itself [was] valorized as the proof of Protestant piety’ (p. 176).

[4] Part III of the volume, ‘Theatres of Remembrance’, offers four essays on varied aspects of theatrical memorialization. Philip Schwyzer’s essay proposes that ‘Shakespeare’s histories and tragedies stir up the fantasy that the dead can live, that the past can be recovered in the present, only to dismiss it as an idle and dangerous dream’, a problematic of memorialization that Schwyzer examines in and as dramatic re-enactment (p. 193). Janette Dillon’s essay on scenic memory focuses on Jonson’s The Alchemist and its visual echoes of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, contending that Jonson is ‘consciously drawing on [the] collective scenic memory’ of the early modern theatre audience (p. 209). Rory Loughnane’s contribution on staging remembrance in Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi connects the play’s ‘consciously meta-theatrical’ way of staging and representing the dead with ‘contemporary anxieties about … material and spiritual practices of remembrance for the dead’, particularly in light of the Protestant rejection of Purgatory, further arguing that Webster dramatizes the instabilities of memory in the post-Reformation period (pp. 212-213). In the volume’s final essay, Andrew Gordon pursues the theatrical representation of the dead from a comic rather than tragic perspective, arguing that ‘the comic ghost … proves a potent and adaptable cultural form, a focus for investigating the place of the dead as it was a recurrent figure in debates over the reform and politicization of popular culture’ (p. 231).

[5] The Arts of Remembrance in Early Modern England will be of enormous value to both scholars and students of early modern memory studies, and not only for its unique focus on shifting conceptions of memorial culture in the post-Reformation era. This superb collection demonstrates the intricate links between memory and materiality on the page and the stage, as well as in the world, and illuminates the often unexpected spaces where remembrance was shaped in early modernity. Indeed, one great strength of the volume lies in its expansive approach to the memory arts. As Andrew Gordon and Thomas Rist so aptly conclude, ‘the contested cultural inheritance of the early modern period found no more powerful expression than in the rich flowering of the arts of remembrance’ (p. 15).

University of California-Irvine, July 2015

Lisa Hopkins, Renaissance Drama on the Edge (Ashgate, 2014)

Lisa Hopkins, Renaissance Drama on the Edge (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014). ISBN 978-1-4094-3819-9, 191 pp + ii. £54.00.

Reviewed by Paul Frazer

9781409438199.JKT_template[1] One of the glittering trophies in Lisa Hopkins’ research wunderkammer is her 2005 Shakespeare on the Edge, a trail-blazing study of border-crossing in the tragedies and Henriad. 2014’s Renaissance Drama on the Edge develops and expands the remits of her earlier work’s methodological focus upon borders, boundaries and margins, to ‘push the idea of the edge to the very limits of what it will bear’ (p. 2). The idea proves robust, and Hopkins drives it beyond the canonical Shakespearean pale, into fringe territories of plays such as Coriolanus, All’s Well that Ends Well, Pericles and Cymbeline, and into ‘outer’ realms of Marlowe, Ford, Chettle, Greene and William Rowley (to name only a few of the many authors she considers). Traversing a panorama of plays, poems, and prose, Renaissance Drama on the Edge employs eight concept-driven chapters to expound literary edges relating to geological, bodily, political, material and spiritual points of contact and division.

[2] Central to Hopkins’ convictions is ‘the interface between geographical and spiritual edges’ which, she claims, carried a ‘profound imagined connection’ in the period between the earthly and divine (p. 1). Often this connection manifests in relation to staged political environs, such as in the opening chapter’s discussion of walls – those most ‘quintessentially liminal’ and ‘most visible of edges’ (p. 5). Here Hopkins leads us beyond the ‘strangely and subversively domesticated walls of Coriolanus’, where rigorous detective-work links the play compellingly to the contemporary political intrigues of Bess of Hardwick (and the ‘impenetrable’ boundaries of her homestead: Hardwick Hall in Nottinghamshire), to the ‘openly militarised and yet also ultimately psychological use of the idea of a wall’ in Tamburlaine I and II (p. 11). Where walled edges provide links to particular events and political scandal for Shakespeare, Marlowe’s interest in the boundaries often reveals ‘an unexpected adjacency with the psychological’ (p. 20), and frontiers that separate Protestant from Catholic, demonic from divine, Christian from Jew, and cities from the world become ‘sites of psychological vulnerability’ with ‘emasculating and endangering effect[s]’ (p. 24). Chapter Two shadows ways in which staged physical boundaries could demarcate the edges of spiritual terrain through a reading of the denominational connections of Saints Peter and Paul, respective paragons of traditionalist and reformist sensibilities. Here Hopkins’ discussion raises evidence from Henry V, Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, and King John to place Shakespeare’s theological positions as determinedly and consistently neutral. Sex proves a very different, yet relevant and connected, focus in the following chapter. Hopkins finds literary cross-border relations in Marlowe (Hero and Leander, Edward II), Shakespeare (Cymbeline, Midsummer Night’s Dream), Ford (’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Perkin Warbeck), Greene (James the Fourth) and Milton (Comus), which variously animate the ‘profoundly destabilising and far-reaching effects’ of sexual unions which transcend territorial divides. Sex at the ‘liminal zone’ of the national boundary becomes ‘a breeding ground for inappropriate sexual relations’ (p. 65), where flash-point conflicts, risks and memories inflect border-places with unnatural and unsettling sexual and reproductive potentials.

[3] Where the book’s treatment of edges undoubtedly becomes most absorbing and original is in its exploration of French boundaries in its fourth and fifth chapters. For when Shakespeare situated his plays in France, he did so at its insistently mobile, changeable, and blurred borders. Hopkins firstly maps this interest in relation to the southern Navarre (Love’s Labour’s Lost) and Roussillon (All’s Well that Ends Well) regions. These border-territories serve as spaces of ideological contestation, where the outermost parts of France intersect with and embody opposing geo-political theologies, revealing ‘a surprising adjacency not only with Spain, as might be expected, but, symbolically, with England’ (p. 84). Similarly, northern edges of Calais and the Ardennes signify, in plays like As You Like It, ‘a region characterised by profound changes to both territorial boundaries and to individual senses of national identities’ (p. 91). Such ‘points of crisis’ in language, religion, and culture come, in Shakespeare’s history plays, to function as dialectical reminders of England’s comparatively fixed coastal edges, providing a ‘powerful trope for personal ones [edges], so that to be English is to be bounded’ (p. 107). Traversing the shifting and nebulous silhouette of France in these plays becomes, in Hopkins’ insightful reading, a foil for discovering the firm and fixed nature of English identity.

[4] In the final section, Hopkins’ argument traces the uncertain edges of eschatology, exploring first ‘the idea that certain places on the map might offer points of access to another world’ (p. 3). For saints wander at the edges (and below the surface) of a wide range of early modern narratives, not least those of Hamlet and Cymbeline where Irish, Danish and British hagiographic legacies of Saints Patrick, Gertrude and Winifred articulate complex soteriological significances. Hopkins illustrates how further allusions to places of pilgrimage and subterranean caves, rifts and chasms also harboured vexing national and political resonances. Literal products of these ‘underworlds’ were the precious stones extracted from them, and the numerous and varying perceptions of how jewels connected to (and affected) human bodies forms the remarkable focus of Chapter Seven. Hopkins unearths figurations of jewels (and the mining of jewels) as metaphors for the outer (dermatological) edges of the body in a range of early modern texts. And in her final chapter, entitled ‘The Edge of the World’, Hopkins surveys how tragedies such as The Duchess of Malfi and King Lear concern themselves with the ethereal edges of religious ruins and high places like cliffs, around which sanctity and the numinous serve as important points of contact between the living and the dead.

[5] Coursing throughout this study is a crucial and canny awareness of the histories that undergird the many boundaries and limits transgressed by its disparate argumentative routes. In particular, Hopkins’ sensitivity to the Roman and Christian foundations lurking beneath her chosen borders – be they mapped or remembered, felt or imagined – highlights the layered complexity of how early modern subjects negotiated ‘limitation’ and ‘transition’ by looking backwards, often open to the lessons of former edges crossed, previous limits reached: ‘the image of the present was shadowed and troubled by that other picture of the past constantly flickering at its edge’ (p. 5). And in Renaissance Drama on the Edge Lisa Hopkins breaks important new ground in understanding how early modern dramatists collapsed the ‘national, personal, and the geographical’ (p. 107), offering another important gateway for literary students and scholars of this vexing period.

Northumbria University, July 2015

Call for Editors for the Journal of the Northern Renaissance

Astronomia, Flemish (detail)The Journal of the Northern Renaissance is seeking new recruits to its editorial team. Established in 2009, JNR is a peer-reviewed, open-access online journal dedicated to the study of both the cultural productions and the concept of the Northern Renaissance.

As several members of the current editorial team will be either moving on or taking up additional duties over the coming year, ear, we are looking for three new editors. For each of these roles (see below) previous editorial experience and/or knowledge of online publishing and coding would be valuable but is not necessarily required. Equally important will be a willingness to learn and to work together with fellow editors, and a passionate interest in the Northern Renaissance, reflected in both a research specialism and a broader curiosity about the wider field.

JNR’s remit includes literature, art and architectural history and material cultures, musicology, philosophy, politics, theology and the history of science. In recruiting new editors we hope to strengthen the journal’s interdisciplinary nature, and we would therefore welcome applications from across this range of disciplines. We would also especially welcome prospective editors from outside the UK, and those who are working on less-studied aspects of the Northern Renaissance.

These positions are, at present, unpaid: we all give our time voluntarily. However, they do offer an invaluable opportunity to develop useful skills and networks, to witness the peer reviewing and publishing process from within, and to broaden one’s engagement with the rich variety of contemporary scholarship on the Renaissance in the north and its manifold conceptualizations.

The roles we are seeking to fill are as follows:

(a) Associate/General Editor

The new editor will work with the current editor and associate editors to produce new issues, identify and approach peer reviewers, and determine the future direction of the journal. S/he will also help develop Polaris, a new JNR venture publishing shorter discussion pieces and polemics. We hope to recruit an associate editor who in 6-12 months’ time will be ready and willing to take over as General Editor, with overall responsibility for JNR. We would expect the new editor to already be an established scholar with a good publication record. An ability to network, and to engage with topics and scholars beyond one’s immediate research specialisms, would also be invaluable.

(b) Associate Editor (Reviews)

JNR publishes book and exhibition reviews on a rolling basis. We are looking for a new reviews editor who will take responsibility for soliciting books for review, identifying and contacting reviewers, and editing and posting reviews to the journal website as they are received.

(c) Assistant Editor

The assistant editor will aid the editorial team in preparing articles for online publication, and also contribute to the running of Polaris. The role would be ideally suited to a doctoral student.

To apply for one or more of these posts, please send a short CV (no more than 4 sides) to northernrenaissance@gmail.com, together with a brief covering letter or email (no more than 500 words) saying why you think you would be well suited to JNR, by 1 September 2015. Informal enquiries can also be addressed to us at this email address.