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What to focus on in an intellectual history of ius gentium et naturae for a volume on the relations between international law and Christianities? For centuries, (international) law and Christian theology maintained intensive and complex relations, which it is impossible to do justice to within the scope of this chapter. With the more recent “turn to history” in international legal scholarship, discussions of the relationship between ius gentium et naturae and Christianity generally center on secularization and/or empire. For obvious reasons both sets of histories deal with early modernity – the time that the so-called Respublica Christiana or Holy Roman Empire was profoundly affected by Reformations, gradually fragmented, and religious and theological fights were part of the politics of the newly emerging European nation-states.
This article explores the Law Commission's proposals on how and where people can get married in England and Wales as found in their ‘Getting Married’ Consultation Paper. It examines the extent to which the Commission's proposals will deal with or mitigate concerns expressed about two types of non-qualifying wedding ceremonies: ‘unregistered religious marriages’ where the couple undergo a religious ceremony that does not comply with the requirements of the Marriage Act 1949, and ‘non-religious marriages’ where the ceremony is conducted by celebrants representing a belief organisation (such as Humanists UK) or by independent celebrants and so is also outside the Marriage Act 1949 and not currently legally binding. The article largely welcomes the Commission's proposals but expresses concern about the proposed officiant system and how it defines belief organisation; the proposed changes to the law on validity; and the creation of a new criminal offence. The article develops these three points further and contends that, while a transformed weddings law could recognise non-religious marriages and reduce the number of unregistered religious marriages, the introduction of statutory cohabitation rights upon separation is needed to truly deal with concerns over unregistered religious marriages.
Margaret Cavendish was an unusually public figure in early modern England. She published widely under her own name on several secular subjects, including natural philosophy, inequality of the sexes, and educational theory. This article explores the development of Cavendish's educational theories through a detailed account of her life, which took place in three discrete stages. First, it examines her youth, when she was informally educated by family members and private tutors. It then follows her education as she traveled to Europe with her embattled queen and met her husband, William Cavendish. And finally, it shows that with William's support and patronage, Cavendish returned to England at the Restoration as a confident and mature female author. In doing so, this article addresses questions related to Cavendish's pedagogical beliefs, why those beliefs sometimes differed from her own experiences, and how she communicated these ideas through her literature.
After performing ritual gestures of mourning, Job’s friends sat with him in silence for seven days and seven nights. They ‘thoght that he wolde not have hearkened to their counsel’, the annotators of the Geneva Bible explained.1 Early modern English culture acknowledged bereavement as a harrowing experience and recognised the challenges consolers faced when trying to offer solace. Overwhelmed by the loss of a loved one, grief-stricken mourners might, like Job, be reluctant to accept the remedies of religion and philosophy. To be sure, those who indulged in excessive sorrow were castigated, but so were consolers when their insistence on faith and reason was felt to betray a lack of sympathy for the bereaved. The fictitious author of an answer letter included in Angel Day’s The English Secretorie, a letter-writing manual published in 1586, pointed out the inefficiency of the consolatory epistle sent to him by his ‘brother’, whose severity, he implied, was ill advised: ‘Follie were it for mee to thinke or you to beleeue, that the pensiue imagination of a thing so neere … coulde with the vehemencie of a fewe specches (more of zeale then equitie deliuered) be sodenly remooued’.2 The multiplication of formal templates for such replies shows that in England as well as on the Continent, consolation came to be perceived as a dialogic exchange.3 Epistolary practice and friendly ‘conversation’ opened up a conceptual space for debating the ethical and rhetorical limits of consolation.4
The ethics of compassion in early modern England was rife with conflict. This chapter reveals some of the fault lines within Protestant ethics. Ethos marks the spot where character meets culture, as ethics unites four distinct aspects: character, sets of protocols for behaving, particular sites for that behaviour and ways of representing these entities of character, behaviour and action. Bruce R. Smith takes up these aspects of ethics to consider how each contributes to understanding the workings of compassion in the culture of early modern England between 1560 and 1660. His chapter considers philosophical writings, legal documents, sermons, music and theatre plays from England in the century between 1560 and 1660, a crucial time in the religious and political history of the country. It pays particular attention to the reframings of the concept of compassion in Protestantism as well as the politics of compassions vis-à-vis people of other nations and other faiths. He concludes that the 'ethics' of compassion is, at bottom, a matter of virtue, but in more complicated ways than we might at first assume.
Katherine Ibbett analyses the place of the self in compassion as explored by three key writers of the European Catholic Reformation, and suggests that attention to the contours of the compassionate self provides an important perspective on the relation between the Christian and the world. The chapter focuses on three texts: the French devout humanist François de Sales’s Introduction à la vie dévote / Introduction to the devout life (1609), the Italian Jesuit Roberto Bellarmino’s De gemitu columbiae, sive de bono lacrymarum /The Mourning of the Dove, or the value of tears (1617) and the French Jesuit Pierre Le Moyne’s La dévotion aisée / An easy devotion (1652). The writers of the Catholic Counter-Reformation looked to draft a new understanding of compassionate social interaction. This model pointed to a new and more worldly form of Christian civility, generated and underwritten by a sweet management of our own self.
Black embodiment has dominated Shakespeare and early modern race research, allowing whiteness too often to go unremarked upon. While the importance of this work cannot be overvalued, this particular focus has not just elided the necessity of thinking about whiteness but has, paradoxically, risked centering whiteness in an uncritical fashion. It’s imperative, however, that we bring critical race and critical white studies to bear on the work of Shakespeare as well as that of his fellow playwrights: The whiteness of humanity as figured in “white people” emerges as one of the most articulated subjects in the early modern period and one that is being fully “discovered” and exploited. It’s critical we understand the white racialization of the early modern stage (especially as the site of embodiment) and Shakespeare’s specific contributions to it, if we seek to understand the making of “white people” in modernity and in our own contemporary moment.
Economic growth is not the underpinning purpose of schools, thriving is. There already exist some possible accounts of what thriving as a purpose might mean. Jacques Delors for UNESCO developed a humanistic account of education's purpose as including learning to be and learning to live together. Others advance 'twenty-first-century skills' as key outcomes. The OECD has taken a competency-based approach, defining competence as knowledge plus skills plus attitudes plus values. In this model, competence aims towards individual and societal well-being. However, in a time of climate risks and biodiversity loss we have to think beyond the individual human or even society. Humans are a part of a bigger ecology of which we are a part; and we must attend to this planetery thriving as much as to our own.
When Wall Street crashed in October 1929, it sparked an economic depression that shook the American people to the core. France fared little better: the full impact of the crash may not have been felt there until the end of 1932 but the Republic had already endured a decade of economic instability, due in part to the heavy burden of French war debts. As the decade wore on, commentators on both sides of the Atlantic worried that modern capitalism and the associated “liberal culture of modernity” was too frail to sustain democracy or the nation-state. This chapter focuses on the ways that African American and francophone black intellectuals responded to this so-called “crisis of modernity” during this period. Key black intellectuals and activists such as the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor and the African American Mercer Cook sought to transform their respective national and imperial landscapes in order to reconfigure republican democracy along more egalitarian lines. Through journals such as L'Étudiant Noir, and the Crisis, as well as through a series of congresses and published anthologies these men and women made important theoretical and practical interventions into thinking around citizenship, national sovereignty and access to rights.
When Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) translated the ancient Corpus Hermeticum in 1460 and unlocked the secrets of the mysterious figure known as Hermes Trismegistus, he discovered a wellspring of knowledge that promised to transform humanity’s understanding of both the world and its Creator. He and many others believed that the writings of Hermes conveyed the prisca sapientia, or ancient wisdom, once vouchsafed to Adam in the Garden but then lost after humanity’s fall from divine grace. The philosophical tradition known as hermeticism quickly spread across Renaissance Europe, alongside renewed interest in the mystical Judaic practice of the Kabbalah, another source of wisdom that sought to reveal the hidden traces of God in the universe. These traditions of learned magic inspired the archetypal Renaissance magus, the English philosopher John Dee (1527-608), in his quest for knowledge. He conversed with angels and advised some of Europe’s most powerful monarchs, but like the fictional figure of Faustus, who dabbled in dark arts and damned himself for eternity, Dee had to contend with the distrust and fear of contemporaries who believed that magic was the work of demons.
Studies of liberationist Christianity in Argentina have largely explained its emergence with reference to changes or continuities within the Catholic Church. This article instead analyses firstly how Marxist humanism, dependency theory and left nationalism shaped a rapprochement with Christianity in the 1960s, with Peronism often functioning as an intermediary. Moreover, it demonstrates the ways in which the ongoing ambivalent relationship between Marxism and the liberationist Christian movement in Argentina manifested in the fragmentation of the Movimiento de Sacerdotes para el Tercer Mundo (Movement of Priests for the Third World) in the first half of the 1970s. In doing so, it identifies Marxism not as merely a passive repository of ideas but as an active agent in liberationist Christianity's development, and adds a new layer of understanding of the dynamics and fragmentation of the movement.
The third chapter traces how Petrarch imagines the place of the poet in the period between 1341 and 1353. It begins with Petrarch’s coronation oration as poet laureate of Rome, which has long been recognized as representing the poet’s status in an oscillating temporality between past and present. It argues that this tension in Petrarch’s self-representation is related to his ambiguous stance about appertaining to a city or being situated beyond it. In readings of the coronation oration, the letters surrounding the revolution of Cola di Rienzo, and his major texts on poetry, the chapter shows how Petrarch increasingly distances himself from association with urban environments as places of the masses, even as he becomes more directly involved in politics. With an ideal Rome as his city, he can claim a status that is above and beyond the vulgar concerns of the people of the city. Petrarch’s political language of vituperation against the people coincides with the language of his rejection of the vernacular. After a close reading of the poetics of place in Familiares 10.4 and the related Parthenias, the chapter concludes with an analysis of the defense of poetry in the Invective contra medicum.
The second chapter addresses Dante’s representation of himself as a poet in relation to the civic sphere. In a detailed analysis of the Egloghe, four Latin poems that make up Dante’s correspondence from Ravenna with Bolognese professor and poet Giovanni del Virgilio, the chapter shows how Dante measures himself against a humanist paradigm for the role of the poet in the city. In his rejection of this role, he asserts himself as the poet of exile, who stands without a city. Yet, through the pastoral imaginary, he also figures a space for poetry in the historical world, marginal though it may be. The chapter concludes by applying this reading of Dante’s humanism to the Paradiso. First, in a reading of Paradiso 15–17, it establishes that the human community of which Dante is poet is figured as a utopia somewhere between Cacciaguida’s Florence of the past and an imaginary Florence of the future. Then, in a reading of Paradiso 22–27, it shows how Dante asserts himself as a poet-theologian and poet laureate.
The introduction situates the book’s argument within scholarly debates on poetic authority in the late Middle Ages and especially in fourteenth-century Italy. It frames the book’s narrative by inviting readers to think historically about the role of poets and poetry in the public sphere. By understanding in its historical context how poet-scholars first argued for their own relevance centuries ago, we may better conceive new roles for literature in the changing landscape of public discourse. While an etiology of the figure of the public intellectual or an archaeology of the public humanities are goals beyond the scope of this book, its argument supports and contributes to debates on these topics.
A part of this book’s story shows how four poets sought to create an institution of poetry because other paths to recognition and power in the civic space were blocked to them. The defense of poetry and laurel crowning were modes of political empowerment. By the end of the fourteenth century, with the increasing bureaucratization of cities like Florence, the intellectuals who take up the cause of poetry no longer do so to defend their own role in society. The authority of the poet is reabsorbed by the authors of the works read by these functionaries, who shared a similar training in grammar, rhetoric, and law with these poets, but whose effective authority in the city required no defending. As a concluding example, the epilogue examines the first defense of poetry of Florentine Chancellor Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406), which takes place in a series of private letters written to Bolognese Chancellor Giuliano Zonarini in 1378–79. It suggests that the previous poets’ concern for situating themselves vis-à-vis political power is translated into a role for poetry itself.
The first chapter examines notary-poet Albertino Mussato’s defenses of poetry in relation to his political role in Padua between 1309 and 1320 and to the poetry he composed during this period, a Senecan tragedy, Ecerinis (1314), and a Lucanian epic, De obsidione civitatis Padue (1320). Challenging received notions that Mussato’s defenses of poetry are not politically oriented, it argues that Mussato employs them to authorize his political role in the city. It describes Mussato as the poet of the city inasmuch as he establishes an institution of poetry which allows him to participate with increasing authority in the political debates of his city. This institution is formally recognized in the civic sphere with Mussato’s crowning as poet laureate in 1315. If in his defenses of poetry Mussato establishes the poet as equal to the theologian, then in his Ecerinis and De obsidione he performs that role by seeking to provide moral and political direction to the Latinate notaries and novices of the city. He assumes the role traditionally held by theologians of influencing the moral and political outlooks of the city’s inhabitants.
This chapter outlines some of the intellectual currents that have led to the development of contemporary critical posthumanism(s). Critical posthumanist thought aims to abandon the essentialisms of humanism and to theorize a human subject constituted not by self-sameness but by difference, not fixed but in process, and entangled in human, non-human, and technological relations. I trace some of the challenges to humanism posed by the antihumanisms of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and then offer an overview of some recent and positive philosophical and cultural responses to these challenges, including new ways to think about embodiment and materiality, about our embeddedness in and dependence on the non-human world, and about our simultaneous and globalized entanglement in the cultures of technology. If nothing else, the imminent threat of the climate crisis demonstrates the pressing need to rethink ourselves in/and the world.
What did it mean to be a poet in fourteenth-century Italy? What counted as poetry? In an effort to answer these questions, this book examines the careers of four medieval Italian poets (Albertino Mussato, Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, and Giovanni Boccaccio) who wrote in both Latin and the Italian vernacular. In readings of defenses of poetry, speeches and letters on public laurel-crowning ceremonies, and other theoretical and poetic texts, this book shows how these poets viewed their authorship of poetic works as a function of their engagement in a human community. Each poet represents a model of the poet as a public intellectual - a poet-theologian - who can intervene in public affairs thanks to his authority within texts. The City of Poetry provides a new historicized approach to understanding poetic culture in fourteenth-century Italy which reshapes long-standing Romantic views of poetry as a timeless and sublimely inspired form of discourse.
Describes the rising tide of secularism within the United States, including but not limited to the growth of the “Nones” – people without a religious affiliation. Also introduces a key concept in the book: the difference between nonreligiosity and secularism. The former is defined by the absence of religion (what you are not) while the latter refers to an affirmative embrace of a secular worldview (what you are).
American society is rapidly secularizing–a radical departure from its historically high level of religiosity–and politics is a big part of the reason. Just as, forty years ago, the Religious Right arose as a new political movement, today secularism is gaining traction as a distinct and politically energized identity. This book examines the political causes and political consequences of this secular surge, drawing on a wealth of original data. The authors show that secular identity is in part a reaction to the Religious Right. However, while the political impact of secularism is profound, there may not yet be a Secular Left to counterbalance the Religious Right. Secularism has introduced new tensions within the Democratic Party while adding oxygen to political polarization between Democrats and Republicans. Still there may be opportunities to reach common ground if politicians seek to forge coalitions that encompass both secular and religious Americans.