Scholars interested in the conjunction between literature and politics, from Bakhtin to Greenblatt, have typically focused on a binary of complicity in versus resistance to systems of power. However, anxieties at the end of the 16th century centered on the destabilization of familiar hierarchies, a fall in aristocratic influence, and the rise of a class of gentleman of ambiguous social rank. Both aristocrats and gentlemen felt entitled to but denied a greater participatory role in governance; both were highly invested in the status quo and yet often found themselves alienated from it. In the tumultuous Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, in which the balance of four humors gave way to ubiquitous melancholy, this panel posits the typical experience of the early modern subject as better characterized by discontent than dissent. This fraught and paralyzing affective political response denies us even the illusion of action and catharsis offered by dissent and resistance, as well as a more realistic if less comforting vision of everyday political engagement. The panel seeks to explore the literary expressions of and responses to early modern discontent, including but not limited to satire, neo-stoicism, drama, libel, or “railing.” Papers on literature broadly construed, history, or philosophy are welcome, as are a wide variety of methodological approaches. Sponsored by the Rutgers Medieval-Renaissance Colloquium.
Please send an abstract of no more than 150 words along with a 300-word CV to William Tanner (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Tom Fulton (email@example.com) by May 28.