Renaissance Culture and the Everyday
Patricia Fumerton and Simon Hunt, Editors
"A lively and illuminating collection of essays that extends the recent trend away from a concentration on structures of state power and religious authority and toward the domestic, the local, and the ordinary. But the ordinary, in the skillful analyses brought together in this volume, proves to be extraordinarily charged with conflict, strangeness, and dramatic intensity. Fumerton and Hunt have assembled some of the most interesting voices in Renaissance studies today."—Stephen Greenblatt
It was not unusual during the Renaissance for cooks to torture animals before slaughtering them in order to render the meat more tender, for women to use needlepoint to cover up their misconduct and prove their obedience, and for people to cover the walls of their own homes with graffiti.
Items and activities as familiar as mirrors, books, horses, everyday speech, money, laundry baskets, graffiti, embroidery, and food preparation look decidedly less familiar when seen through the eyes of Renaissance men and women. In Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, such scholars as Judith Brown, Frances Dolan, Richard Helgerson, Debora Shuger, Don Wayne, and Stephanie Jed illuminate the sometimes surprising issues at stake in just such common matters of everyday life during the Renaissance in England and on the Continent.
Organized around the categories of materiality, women, and transgression—and constantly crossing these categories—the book promotes and challenges readers' thinking of the everyday. While not ignoring the aristocratic, it foregrounds the common person, the marginal, and the domestic even as it presents the unusual details of their existence. What results is an expansive, variegated, and sometimes even contradictory vision in which the strange becomes not alien but a defining mark of everyday life.
Patricia Fumerton is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament.
Simon Hunt teaches English at the Santa Catalina School in Monterey, California.