By Philip Schwyzer
This research attracts at the concept and perform of archaeology to strengthen a brand new standpoint at the literature of the Renaissance. Philip Schwyzer explores the fascination with photos of excavation, exhumation, and break that runs via literary texts together with Spenser's Faerie Queene, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, Donne's sermons and lyrics, and Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia, or Urne-Buriall. Miraculously preserved corpses, ruined monasteries, Egyptian mummies, and Yorick's cranium all determine during this examine of the early smooth archaeological mind's eye. The pessimism of the interval is summed up within the haunting motif of the attractive corpse that, as soon as touched, crumbles to airborne dirt and dust. Archaeology and literary reports are themselves items of the Renaissance. even supposing the 2 disciplines have occasionally considered each other as opponents, they proportion a special and unsettling intimacy with the strains of earlier life--with the phrases the useless wrote, sang, or heard, with the gadgets they made, held, or lived inside of. Schwyzer argues that on the root of either kinds of scholarship lies the forbidden wish to wake up (and communicate with) the lifeless. besides the fact that most unlikely or absurd this hope might be, it is still a primary resource of either moral accountability and aesthetic excitement.
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Additional info for Archaeologies of English Renaissance Literature
The Tempest itself is an example. Not ‘Shakespeare’ and ‘Tudor England’ but texts, traces of a lost world. My academic ﬁeld, literary studies, is not alone in studying and cherishing such racks of time. As the archaeologists Michael Shanks 18 Intimate Disciplines and Christopher Tilley observe in a mildly ironic charter for their own discipline: A need has been perceived for a special ﬁeld of activity, for a class of experts or professionals, to deal with the problem the traces of the past pose to the present.
Yet the fourpoint list could serve equally well as a charter for literary studies, where the traces are by deﬁnition textual. Archaeologists and literary scholars are akin in devoting their professional lives to traces of the worlds we have lost, and the problems that at once complicate and motivate their work are strikingly similar. ‘Objectivity’ may have become something of a straw-man in both ﬁelds, but the other questions remain very much alive. How can we relate the traces of the past to their original context?
If the primary goal was to explain away awkward evidence of past civilizational achievement, colonial archaeology also had the effect of weakening the perceived rootedness of the contemporary population. A people who had inherited no right ⁵ See Anna King, ‘Tribes Appeal Bones Ruling’, Tri-City Herald, 16 Feb. html). ), The Dead and Their Possessions: Repatriation in Principle, Policy and Practice (London: Routledge, 2002), 63–86. ⁷ Quoted in Smith, Archaeological Theory, 189 ⁸ Curtis M. Hinsley, ‘Digging for Identity: Reﬂections on the Cultural Background of Collecting’, American Indian Quarterly, 20 (1996), 180–96.
Archaeologies of English Renaissance Literature by Philip Schwyzer