Renaissance/Reformation/Early Modern

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve
Stephen Greenblatt

Bolder, even, than the ambitious books for which Stephen Greenblatt is already renowned, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve explores the enduring story of humanity’s first parents. Comprising only a few ancient verses, the story of Adam and Eve has served as a mirror in which we seem to glimpse the whole, long history of our fears and desires, as both a hymn to human responsibility and a dark fable about human wretchedness.

Renaissance Suppliants
Leah Whittington

Renaissance Suppliants studies supplication as a social and literary event in the long European Renaissance. It argues that scenes of supplication are defining episodes in a literary tradition stretching back to Greco-Roman antiquity, taking us to the heart of fundamental questions of politics and religion, ethics and identity, sexuality and family

The Poetry of John Milton
Gordon Teskey

(2015) In this panoramic interpretation, the distinguished Milton scholar Gordon Teskey shows how the poet’s changing commitments are subordinated to an aesthetic that joins beauty to truth and value to ethics. The art of poetry is rediscovered by Milton as a way of thinking in the world as it is, and for the world as it can be.

Blessed and Beautiful: Picturing the Saints
Robert Kiely

(2010). This book offers a powerful and searching meditation on the lives of the saints and the images of them painted by Renaissance artists in Italy. Robert Kiely has a keen eye and uncanny ability to capture details of significance and to prompt the reader to look again and to see with fresh eyes that the lives of saints and the Renaissance depictions of them are anything but dull, uniform, or narrowly orthodox.

Shakespeare’s Freedom
Stephen Greenblatt

(2010). Shakespeare lived in a world of absolutes—of claims for the absolute authority of scripture, monarch, and God, and the authority of fathers over wives and children, the old over the young, and the gentle over the baseborn. With the elegance and verve for which he is well known, Stephen Greenblatt, author of the best-selling Will in the World, shows that Shakespeare was strikingly averse to such absolutes and constantly probed the possibility of freedom from them.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Stephen Greenblatt

(2005). Will in the World interweaves a searching account of Elizabethan England with a vivid narrative of the playwright’s life. We see Shakespeare learning his craft, starting a family, and forging a career for himself in the wildly competitive London theater world, while at the same time grappling with dangerous religious and political forces.

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Stephen Greenblatt

(2011). The Swerve is both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic (On the Nature of Things by Lucretius), plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it.

Dream in Shakespeare: From Metaphor to Metamorphosis
Marjorie Garber

(2013). Drawing on the works of Freud and other psychologists, but basing its argument on the language and dramatic structure of the plays themselves, Dream in Shakespeare presents a coherent and innovative reading of the plays and their developing concept of dream.

Shakespeare and Modern Culture
Marjorie Garber

(2009). Shakespeare has determined many of the ideas that we think of as “naturally” true: ideas about human character, individuality and selfhood, government, leadership, love and jealousy, men and women, youth and age. Marjorie Garber delves into ten plays to explore the interrelationships between Shakespeare and contemporary culture, from James Joyce’s Ulysses to George W. Bush’s reading list.

Cultural Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in Literary History
Brian Cummings, James Simpson

(2010). The deepest periodic division in English literary history has been between the Medieval and the Early Modern. Both periods are starting to look different in dialogue with each other, but the change underway has yet to find collected voices behind it. Cultural Reformations aims to provide those voices.

Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and Its Reformation Opponents
James Simpson

(2010). The evidence is everywhere: fundamentalist reading can stir passions and provoke violence that changes the world. Amid such present-day conflagrations, this illuminating book reminds us of the sources, and profound consequences, of Christian fundamentalism in the sixteenth century.

Delirious Milton: The Fate of the Poet in Modernity
Gordon Teskey

(2009). The argument of Delirious Milton, inspired in part by the architectural theorist Rem Koolhaas’s Delirious New York, is that Milton’s creative power is drawn from a rift at the center of his consciousness over the question of creation itself.

Milton’s Latin Poems
David R. Slavitt, Gordon Teskey

(2011). While Milton is recognized as one of the most learned English poets in history, his Latin poetry is less well known. Slavitt’s careful rendering brings Milton’s Latin poems—many written in his late teens—into the present. Featuring an introduction by Gordon Teskey, this comprehensive English-language collection of Milton’s Latin poems pays due respect to a master.

Profiling Shakespeare
Marjorie Garber

(2008). The title of Profiling Shakespeare is meant strongly in its double sense. These essays show the outline of a Shakespeare rather different from the man sought by biographers from his time to our own. They also show the effects, the ephemera, the clues and cues, welcome and unwelcome, out of which Shakespeare’s admirers and dedicated scholars have pieced together a vision of the playwright.

The Art of the Sonnet
Stephen Burt

(2011). Few poetic forms have found more uses than the sonnet in English, and none is now more recognizable. It is one of the longest-lived of verse forms, and one of the briefest. A mere fourteen lines, fashioned by intricate rhymes, it is, as Dante Gabriel Rossetti called it, “a moment’s monument.” From the Renaissance to the present, the sonnet has given poets a superb vehicle for private contemplation, introspection, and the expression of passionate feelings and thoughts.

Under the Hammer: Iconoclasm in the Anglo-American Tradition
James Simpson

(2011). When we think of breaking images, we assume that it happens somewhere else. We tend to look with horror on iconoclasm. This book argues instead that iconoclasm is a central strand of Anglo-American modernity. Our horror at the destruction of art derives in part from the fact that we too did, and still do, that. This is most obviously true of England’s iconoclastic century between 1538 and 1643.