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1. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 4
Sunil Macwan Populist Improvisation: A Reading of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great in the Context of the Coronavirus Pandemic
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Successfully creating polarizing narratives, several populist leaders have come to dominate the global political sphere in recent times. However, the coronavirus pandemic has raised serious questions over their ability to respond to its challenges effectively. Whether they will remain in power after the pandemic is an intriguing question. The key to understanding the dynamics of power among populist leaders lies in analyzing the tactics they employ for the appropriation of political power. In this context, reading Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great (1587) can play an important role. This essay, therefore, argues that through a unique characterization of Tamburlaine the Great, Marlowe critiques Queen Elizabeth’s aggressive political maneuvers of improvisation, which enabled her to reinforce her divine claim over the throne of England. Yet striking historical and literary references suggest that Queen Elizabeth and Marlowe’s Tamburlaine attempted to achieve improvisation through similar means but in the end encountered the transience and limits of their temporal powers, while facing the biological realities of barrenness and heredity – a fact that should serve as a warning to the current populist leaders across the world.
2. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 4
James Mayo The Knower, the Sayer, and the Doer in Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It
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This essay addresses the connections between Emersonian and Wordsworthian concepts and Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs through It, specifically those ideas of the Knower, the Sayer, and the Doer from Emerson’s “The Poet,” Emerson’s concept of what constitutes poetry and “The Poet,” as well as Wordsworth’s notions of poetic creativity. As discussed in the essay, Emerson’s concepts of the Knower, the Sayer, and the Doer line up with the three central characters of the novella—The Reverend Maclean, Norman Maclean (both the author and the narrator), and Paul Maclean respectively. It is the unique blending of Romantic poetic leanings and religion that make all three the characters they are, which the author represents through the use of fishing as metaphor. The difficulties faced by the Sayer, as he tries to relate the story of past events and “spots in time,” are central to my argument, as they present the central conflict of the novel and offer the readers a contradiction as well, as the character who’s known as the Sayer should have no trouble expressing himself. However, it is with Wordsworth’s notion of ideas reflected on in tranquility that allow the Sayer to tell the story of his brother, the great poet/artist in a Romantic sense.
3. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 4
William Tate “Stalled by Our Lassitude”: Time and Attunement in Wilbur’s “Lying”
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Richard Wilbur’s poem “Lying” considers two kinds of lying. He addresses the traditional accusation that poets tell lies, but he gradually exposes boredom as a subtler and more dangerous form of lying. The essay draws on insights from the philosophers Martin Heidegger and Jean-Luc Marion and considers analogues in Scripture and Hamlet and Paradise Lost in order to draw out the significance of Wilbur’s claim.
4. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 4
Notes on Contributors
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5. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 3
Christian R. Davis Protestant Missionaries in Literature: Hagiographic, Fanatical, and Carnivalesque Characters
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Protestant cross-cultural missionaries have appeared as characters in literary narratives for some two hundred years. These narratives use three patterns. The first, showing godly missionaries supported by divine interventions, includes nonfiction accounts of missionaries like Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot, and Don Richardson. The second pattern, showing missionaries as orthodox fanatics, includes Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Maugham’s “Rain,” and Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. The third pattern, common in postcolonial novels, portrays missionaries with ambivalence and humor and includes elements of Bakhtin’s “carnivalesque”: comic-grotesque imagery, obscenities, and feasts. This postcolonial missionary character represents not oppression but freedom and appears in such novels as Anand’s Untouchable, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, and Vargas Llosa’s The Storyteller.
6. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 3
Sean Benson “[D]runk with those that have the fear of God”: Shakespeare on Social Drunkenness
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The standard view is that Shakespeare depicts alcoholic consumption as good in moderation, but bad when used to excess. Although he illustrates in Falstaff and others alcohol’s debilitating effects, Shakespeare also treats occasional drunkenness at festive events—christenings, wakes, church ales—as benign and even salutary. Such occasions are part and parcel of the pre-Reformation tolerance of social drunkenness (as opposed to moderate imbibing), what I call good Christian drinking. The REED documents attest to the church’s accommodation of drinking at parish festivities, particularly at ales. I argue that Shakespeare’s plays permit and even encourage social drunkenness as a lubricant for fellowship—especially if the drinking is done in the company of fellow believers. Engaging this serious Reformation controversy with comic levity, Shakespeare shows a taste that is remarkably latitudinarian concerning the religious tolerance of social drunkenness.
7. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 3
Carla Arnell Lud-in-the-Mist as Memento Mori: Existential Anxiety and the Consolations of an Aesthetic Theology in Hope Mirrlees’s Fantasy Novel
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This essay of practical literary criticism explores how Hope Mirrlees’s fantasy novel Lud-in-the-Mist draws upon biblical and medieval narrative traditions to develop a fantasy tale whose Christian theology is smuggled in as sweetly and subtly as the novel’s fairy fruit. Through my analysis, I argue that Mirrlees uses symbolism and allegory to develop an aesthetic theology aimed at addressing her own and her protagonist’s existential anxiety about death. In the course of that theological tale, she represents faith as an antidote to existential fear and sacramental ritual as a means of reconciling the spiritual and material, the divine and the human, both of which have become estranged at the novel’s start. In that regard, her story about the return of Catholic sacramentalism to the bourgeois town of Lud-in-the-Mist adumbrates her own turn to Catholicism in the years after the novel’s publication, suggesting for Mirrlees’s enigmatic biography an earlier and more gradual turn to religious conversion than has hitherto been described in scholarly accounts of her evolution as a religious thinker.
8. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 2
John E. Curran, Jr. Editor's Page
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9. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 2
Franklin Arthur Wilson Theft as Gift: Percy, Peirce, and Bible in The Second Coming
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This article explores Walker Percy’s use of Charles Sanders Peirce’s concept of “Thirdness” as an interpretive tool in connection with Percy’s use of the Bible in his novel, The Second Coming. In this context, Peirce’s “Thirdness” may be understood as that which mediates between a word (say, w-a-t-e-r, spelled out in Helen Keller’s hand) and a thing (the stuff called “water” simultaneously flowing over Helen Keller’s other hand) as, indeed, Walker Percy defines “Thirdness” in his essay, “The Delta Factor” (The Message in the Bottle, 3-45). As such, C.S. Peirce’s “Thirdness” serves Percy as a model for understanding the function of “triadic” (human) language in the operation of relations both human and divine.
10. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 2
Joshua Avery The Failure of the Sacraments in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner
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This essay argues that Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner represents in its imagery a tension within Coleridge prior to his conversion to Anglicanism. Specifically, the poem’s treatment of institutional sacraments argues for their apparent inefficacy, at least from the Mariner’s vantage point. The sacramental idea upheld by a High Church view would suggest that particular earthly institutions, such as Holy Communion or matrimony, could function as actual and not merely symbolic vehicles of divine grace. The Rime, however, displays a protagonist whose hopes for such possibilities are repeatedly disappointed. Consequently, Coleridge’s poem depicts the terrors of a cosmos in which the activities of divine grace are removed from and inaccessible to human intelligibility and choice.
11. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 2
Jesus Deogracias Principe The Decency of Albert Camus
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This essay explores the place of decency (l’honnêteté) and the decent man (l’honnête homme) in the moral and religious thought of Albert Camus. Focusing primarily on the major fictional works (The Stranger, The Plague, and The Fall), we consider how Camus employs the semantic ambiguity inherent in the notion of being decent, and then develops this into a normative ethical call characterized by responsibility and solidarity. We then explore further how Camus pushes the envelope to make us reflect on whether decency is even possible, both in the sense of addressing the difficulty of taking on moral responsibility, as well as calling into question the decency of the religious mentality. We conclude with reading in Camus not so much a critique as a challenge for the Christian to be true to herself, her ethic, and her faith.
12. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 2
Notes on Contributors
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13. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 1
Steven Knepper Heroes, Tyrants, Howls: Approaching Tragedy with William Desmond
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In recent decades, the philosopher William Desmond (1951-) has offered both insightful readings of individual tragedies and a striking reformulation of old Aristotelian standbys like hamartia and catharsis. This reformulation grows out of his wider philosophy of the “between,” which stresses humans’ fundamental receptivity or “porosity.” For Desmond, tragedy strips away characters’ self-determination and returns them to porosity. The audience is returned to porosity as well, a process of exposure that can be harrowing, and at times leads to despair, but that can also lead, in Desmond’s take on catharsis, to a renewed sense of the worth of fragile beings. Both tragic “being at a loss” and catharsis are important for philosophy because they resist determinate conceptualization. Tragedy reminds philosophy of its limits, and it challenges philosophy to attend to the intimate and the singular. This essay situates, synthesizes, and extends Desmond’s many reflections on tragedy. It focuses in particular on Shakespeare's Macbeth and King Lear.
14. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 1
Christine Grogan Parker’s Black? A Rereading of Race in Flannery O’Connor’s "Parker’s Back"
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Contributing to the uneasy question of race in Flannery O’Connor's fiction, this article performs a rereading of the last story she penned—“Parker’s Back”—and argues that her final protagonist may have been a product of miscegenation. It discusses the implications this would have on our understanding of this spiritually rich story, and, perhaps even more importantly, of O’Connor’s views on race at the end of her life.
15. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 1
Amber True Revising Orthodoxy in the Poems of Robert Southwell
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Community is the framework for the Christian experience. The Greek text from which the English bible is translated uses the ἐκκλησια, which means “assembly,” “assemblage, gathering, meeting,” and in the earliest text, “the universal church to which all believers belong.” Thus, the very idea of Christianity after Christ suggests community. Robert Southwell trained to contribute to a very particular portion of the Christian community in Elizabethan England, but the lyric poetry he produced during this time represents community as flawed and as a potential hindrance to salvation. His poetry responds to the orthodoxy of community by representing real, lived community as spiritually counterproductive and juxtaposing it against the necessity of individual experience and salvation.
16. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 1
Notes on Contributors
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17. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 4
Jeffrey Hipolito Owen Barfield’s Riders on Pegasus: An Introductory Essay
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This essay offers an introduction to Owen Barfield’s long romance poem, Riders on Pegasus. It argues that the poem is a complex example of “romantic modernism,” self-consciously following in the tradition of Blake and Shelley while responding in an equally self-aware way to the anti-romantic modernism of early Eliot and Auden. It argues for the formal and aesthetic accomplishment and interest of the poem, and suggests that it is an as yet overlooked masterpiece of mid-century English poetry.
18. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 4
Jean Bocharova David Foster Wallace’s Catholic Imagination: “The Depressed Person” and Orthodoxy
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Although scholars have read “The Depressed Person” in relation to questions of the self and problems of communication and self-expression, this paper reads the story as an entry point for examining the religious dimensions of Wallace’s work. Comparing Wallace with G.K. Chesterton, the paper argues that if we can accept that the depressed person’s condition is not a biologically grounded clinical depression but an exaggerated personification of a common ailment—a particular brand of loneliness—then we can see that we each have a stake in the search for a way to break the dehumanizing pull of our own egos. Wallace and Chesterton point to submission and attention as potential means of escape, even if they disagree about how to do this. When confronted with the challenge of finding happiness, joy, and connection in a world that encourages introspection, explanatory mastery, and mechanistic views of the self—of finding meaning in the face of forces of meaninglessness, nihilism, and self-centeredness—both draw on imaginative literature as a source of knowledge. Wallace stops just short of orthodoxy, but his works stand as courageous defenses of the human person against the strange but dangerous foes of modern American life.
19. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 4
Elizabeth Burow-Flak Genocide, Memory, and the Difficulties of Forgiveness in Card’s Ender Saga and Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant
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Orson Scott Card’s Ender Saga and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant explore the role of memory in aftermath of genocide; both authors employ fantasy and the metaphor of the buried giant to represent past slaughters. Although distinct in genre, the novels together demonstrate the tension between forgiving and forgetting in memory studies following the atrocities of the twentieth century. Forgiveness in the Ender saga falls short of the accountability embedded in “difficult forgiveness” as defined by Paul Ricoeur, as does the imposed forgetfulness between previously warring parties in The Buried Giant. Similarly, the fictions demonstrate, on a corporate scale, neither “unconditional forgiveness” as defined by Jacques Derrida nor “unconditional love” as defined by Martha Nussbaum. On an interpersonal level, however, The Buried Giant demonstrates the transformative powers of all of these practices, thus inviting reflection on how they might effect larger-scale reconciliations.
20. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 3
Teresa Hanckock-Parmer Vocation and Enclosure in Colonial Nuns’ Spiritual Autobiographies
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This article examines the discourse of enclosure utilized by Maria de San Jose (1656-1719, Puebla), Jeronima Nava y Saavedra (1669-1727, Bogota), and Francisca Josefa de Castillo (1671-1742, Tunja, Colombia) in their spiritual autobiographies. Despite dissimilar personal vocation narratives, these Hispanic nuns embraced enclosure as a tool of continuing spiritual advancement, both before and after actual profession of monastic vows. They portrayed the cloister simultaneously as connubial bedchamber and isolated hermitage, thus ascribing Baroque religious meaning to ancient anchoritic models through intersecting discourses of desert solitude, redemptive suffering, Eucharistic devotion, and nuptial mysticism. To attain ideal enclosure for self and others, these nuns advocated for reform in New World convents, which often reproduced worldly hierarchies, conflicts, and values. Enclosure, more than a symbolic vow or ecclesiastical mandate, constituted a formative practice that fostered correct action and attitude in nuns’ lives; these women conscientiously sought a cloistered life through which they cultivated holiness and created new spiritual meaning.