Adversarial Stances. Strategies of Resistance in Selected Renaissance Texts
ISBN 978-3-88476-181-6, 228 S., kt., € 24,00 (1996)
(LIR - Literatur, Imagination, Realität, Bd. 13)
Renaissance authors were subject to a number of restrictions both through official censorship and less institutionalized forms of outside influence. What needs to be done if an author wants to enter the public sphere despite restrictions on what he or she may or may not say? How do these conditions affect the shape of the works produced? What strategies can protect the author from reprisals? Is there a rhetoric of resistance? These are the questions at the heart of Adversarial Stances.
This study uses a number of Renaissance texts from a broad variety of genres, different conditions of production, different authorial backgrounds, and investigates how these texts manage to defend themselves against outside pressures. Adversarial Stances traces the microtextual strategies, the protective encoding mechanisms necessary for setting up and maintaining a critical position in a hostile environment. Since the formation of an adversarial stance does not begin with its public expression but rather with an engagement with previous traditions of thought, of literary conventions, or of religious models, this book also asks the question how these traditions can be used, read, misread, or appropriated by these authors for their own purposes. The discussion focuses first on the drama of the Renaissance with its difficult relationship to the censor using the example of Shakespeare's Richard II, Marlowe's Edward II, and Jonson's Sejanus. Next, there are the special problems of women writers in Lady Mary Wroth`s Petrarchan poetry and in Louise Labé's rereading of the Rule of Folly. The final complex centres on radical revisionary readings of the Bible in Gerrard Winstanley`s radical communist theology and in Margaret Fell's feminist vision of the church. What is at stake, therefore, in these readings is a problem of expression on the one hand and of reader response on the other for authors working under difficult conditions.