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1. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 2
John Curran

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2. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 2
Edwin Block

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3. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 2
Michelle Eshbaugh-Soha

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4. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 2
Yanbin Kang

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5. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 2

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6. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 1
Benjamin Porter

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Though it’s often said that St. Thomas Aquinas was important to Flannery O’Connor’s theology, few have noted his relevance to her craft approach. By joining Thomas’s action theory to his psychology, O’Connor developed notions of character and plot which are at their most mature in her final novel, The Violent Bear It Away. In it, O’Connor structured her characters by dramatizing Thomas’s doctrine of final causation, a metaphysical explanation of desire, to create dramatic mystagogy. Understanding her creative process this way gives insight into her novel, making sense of opaque moments in the text. Moreover, by understanding final causation, classic criticisms of the novel are put into context. Some have claimed her characters’ actions are overdetermined by her theology. However, understanding O’Connor’s project allows her to respond, making intelligible her craft choices against this criticism. Therefore, it’s by understanding O’Connor’s adaptation of Thomas for literary ends that fresh interpretations of The Violent Bear It Away are made available.

7. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 1
N. S. Boone

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This article provides a close reading of Marianne Moore’s “The Fish,” asserting that it’s imagery should be understood allegorically to represent the split between the physical and the spiritual, or temporal and eternal. In particular, the image of the cliff represents the dualistic nature of humanity—one side physical (and continually eaten away by the encroaching sea), and the other side spiritual. Many readers of Moore have not been able to explain how the cliff can be seen at once to be defeated by the sea on one side, but yet triumph over it on the other. An Christian-allegorical reading, based in Moore’s life-long Protestant faith and her in-depth Bible studies, provides an explanation that makes sense of the imagery.

8. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 1
Qixia Chen, Aihua Chen

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Waste Tide, Chen Qiufan’s debut sci-fi novel, has received growing critical attention. While most of the scholarship focuses on the explicit themes of globalization, post-human, cyborg, and alienation, the perspective of Christianity and the redemptive implications it reveals have not been given due attention. Christian stories and doctrines referred to in the novel are quite closely related to the theme of the redemption of the characters. By presenting the characters’ redemption journey with Christian principles, Chen Qiufan reveals their complex inner world and points out the ways to realize self-redemption. This paper argues that Waste Tide can be most meaningfully interpreted as a story of sin and redemption by utilizing the genre of science fiction. Love, forgiveness, confession, and atonement are emphasized in the novel to serve as the remedies for fallen humanity in a world of technological development and global capitalism. A thorough analysis of the Christian underpinning in this novel reveals Chen Qiufan’s strength in characterization and presenting important moral concerns in a world dominated by technoscience through the Christian voice.

9. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 1
Michele Valerie Ronnick

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In 1638 the Italian scholar Giovanni Salzilli sent the young John Milton who had recently arrived in Italy a short Latin poem in which Salzilli addressed Milton as ‘Milto.’ He did not use the more commonly found form of Milton’s Latin name, Miltonus and Miltonius. Using archival and print materials as evidence this paper examines this apparent hapax legomenon and suggests that its source can be found in Aelian’s Varia Historia.

10. Renascence: Volume > 76 > Issue: 1

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11. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 3/4
Madeline Read

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Shakespeare’s King Lear prefigures the shape of “dignity” as first imagined by Immanuel Kant, who would argue in 1785 that rational beings are ends in themselves, “something that may not be used merely as means” (46). I do not suggest that Shakespeare secretly used the word “dignity” as it is used today, or even that he himself was any kind of proto-Kantian. Scholars such as Robin Headlam Wells have made the case that his plays are deeply rooted in a Renaissance culture of humanism, which would of course give rise to the discourse of social contracts and universal rights that infused Enlightenment thought—but this does not mean that he was already imagining the kind of rights-bearing human subject that would take shape in the philosophies of Kant, Locke, and Rousseau in the eighteenth century. I do suggest, however, that moments in King Lear hint at an economy in which human value is divorced from wealth, position, or performance: even as Lear sinks lower into disenfranchisement and incapacity, the play insists that his worth does not diminish. If King Lear makes the case for dignity as a quotient of human worth that falls out of the hierarchies of value that first produce and measure worth, the economy it envisions hinges on individuals who can suspend those hierarchies and operate within a space where others command respect simply by being. This economy becomes an aneconomy as it demands respect and dignity in a way traditional exchange economies fail to do; it both asks and enables its participants to be gracious, to let go of the transactional logic by which Lear would have everyone live. Though the image of this world in King Lear is fractured, glimpsed between scenes of great cruelty, malice, and misery, it is nonetheless the climax of Shakespeare’s moral vision for his characters. The narrative enables its viewers to contemplate, if only in fragments, the possibility of absolute human worth.

12. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 3/4
Paul R. Cappucci

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This essay examines a critical moment in the poetic relationship of Denise Levertov and William Carlos Williams—the publishing of The Jacob’s Ladder (1961). It considers the scope of Williams’s influence on Levertov, as well as the ways that this collection signals a new spiritual and imaginative direction in her verse. After detailing the development of their friendship, the essay chronicles how the title poem of The Jacob’s Ladder challenged Williams’s understanding of Levertov’s poetics. It also considers the ways that Levertov’s response to Williams’s criticism marked a pivotal moment in her poetic development. Instead of pulling them apart, their exchanges about the poem deepened their appreciation for each other. In this way, the publication of The Jacob’s Ladder reveals Levertov’s connectedness to Williams, as well as her determination to chart a new direction in her work.

13. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 3/4
Patricia Patrick

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The plot of Romeo and Juliet is shaped by the turns of exchanges. Retributive returns fuel cycles of vengeance that lead to the tragic ending. The prologue notoriously gives this ending away, portraying the tragedy as inevitable, even suggesting that the deaths of Romeo and Juliet were the necessary price of peace. In contrast to these tragic returns, the play also portrays benevolent and liberating kinds of turning. Drawing on civic and religious notions of gracious exchange found in Seneca’s On Benefits and in the Homilies, Shakespeare creates a counterpoint to tragic retribution. These gracious returns offer the liberating possibility of turning aside from a tragic trajectory that is only apparently inevitable.

14. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 3/4
Brett Beasley

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Mystery fiction is sometimes assumed—both by scholars and by general readers—to have a simple or even simplistic relationship to morality. Mysteries, on this view, are straightforward "whodunnits": They satisfy readers by identifying wrongdoing and then assigning blame to the individual or individuals responsible. In this paper, I offer a contrary view. I show that the moral laboratory of mystery fiction often winds up subverting, undermining, and unsettling some of our most basic moral assumptions and our standard approaches to thinking about moral responsibility and moral justification. It does so, I argue, by emphasizing what philosophers term moral luck. I center my analysis on moral luck as it appears in The Moonstone, the novel T. S. Eliot called “the first, the longest, and the best” piece of detective fiction, and I offer suggestions for reading later works of mystery fiction with moral luck in mind.

15. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 3/4

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16. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 2
Nathan P. Devir

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This article investigates the reactions to and understandings of selected psychospiritual situations and themes from William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist (1971) by Christian-professing mental health professionals and clergypersons in Benin. Using a variety of descriptive passages from the novel to stimulate discussion on potential similarities and differences between Global Northern and indigenously specific ontological frameworks, the study showcases selected Beninese perspectives on the causation of mental illness and/or supernatural affliction; highlights the diagnostic strategies employed by those tasked with healing psychospiritual trauma; and, most importantly, explores how Beninese theological responses to Blatty’s devotional message can shed light on the familial values and moral ecclesiology of a West African readership at ideological odds with the mores of the postmodern American audience for whom the novel was originally intended.

17. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 2
Gary M. Bouchard

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This essay interrogates the suitability of the term “sacred parody”, coined by Louis Martz in 1954, to describe the imitative poetic endeavors of Robert Southwell, SJ (1561–1595), and English poets like George Herbert who followed his example of converting secular Petrarchan poetry into sacred verses. The essay focuses its examination on Southwell’s most explicitly mimetic engagement with the established Elizabethan poetic paradigm, a poem by then renowned courtier poet, Edward Dyer (1540–1607). In his adaptation, Southwell converted Dyer’s poem into “Dyer’s Fancy Turned to a Sinner’s Complaint.” Just as the title announces, Southwell renders a re-writing of Dyer’s poem, transforming Dyer’s poem of Elizabethan idolatry into one of religious repentance. Remarkably, Southwell achieves this while leaving two-thirds of Dyer’s original poem intact. This essay examines these two poems alongside one another in order to consider what Southwell’s partial revision of Dyer’s poem suggests about the methods as well as the motives of his personal literary reformation project. Ultimately, it offers reasons for why the familiarly used term of “sacred parody” is an inappropriate descriptor of this Jesuit priest’s literary reformation enterprise.

18. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 2
Joshua P. S. Kim

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This article offers a biography of the American poet, memoirist, and human rights activist Carolyn Forché. As an “essay of witness,” adapted from Forché’s term, the “poetry of witness,” it touches upon her childhood, discusses each of her poetry collections and her memoir, and concludes in the present, with Forché as the renowned “poet of witness” readers know today. Of particular emphasis in this essay is the international outlook, focus, and setting of Forché’s art and activism despite her identity as an American poet. This essay—by accentuating these “global” elements of her work—compels readers to rethink Forché’s career and to take an account of her life as embodying and bearing witness to an America whose history and destiny is richly intertwined with those of other states, in opposition to a vision of a nativist, isolationist, or nationalist America that has grown increasingly prominent in contemporary political discourse.

19. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 2

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20. Renascence: Volume > 75 > Issue: 1
Nancy Enright

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Dante lived long before America existed and had no knowledge of the difficult and troublesome history regarding race that has plagued this continent since slavery came to the New World. However, his Divine Comedy can be read as a spiritual journey illustrating the deeply Catholic principle that sin necessitates confession and repentance. In this context, Dante speaks powerfully to the issue of race in America. Nations, like individuals, must reckon with their sins in order to move on to their future in healing and in hope. False arguments that America must recover its “greatness” without a deep and national repentance for the sins of slavery and of racism in general miss the mark spiritually. Just as Dante had to face his own personal sins and failures before moving on from the end of Purgatory into Paradise, America needs to face its sins, both confessing and repenting of them.