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21. 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.
22. 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.
23. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 2
Notes on Contributors
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24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. Renascence: Volume > 72 > Issue: 1
Notes on Contributors
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28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 3
Terry W. Thompson The Writing on the Wall: Belshazzar in the Fiction of Charles Dickens
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Charles Dickens, considered by many the poet laureate for the poor and downtrodden of his time, had a great fondness for "religious and moral themes." As a result, "one does not have to read very far in either the major or minor works of Dickens to learn lessons contained in both the New and Old Testaments." Among his favorite biblical allusions are examples of the many hard "lessons" visited upon the rich and the powerful by a just God. One of the author's most resonating Old Testament references is to the "great feast" of King Belshazzar, the sixth century B.C. ruler of Babylon who loved gold and silver more than people, more than life itself. Allusions, subtle and otherwise, to this self-destructive tyrant appear—with telling effect—in several of Dickens's best-known novels, from A Christmas Carol to A Tale of Two Cities.
33. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 3
Ahmet Süner “Be Not Afeared”: Sycorax and the Rhetoric of Fear in The Tempest
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This paper looks at the thematic and rhetorical variations of a fundamental fear that frequently surfaces in Shakespeare’s The Tempest: the fear of illegitimate birth, which may also be understood as the fear of non-contractual sexuality. Sycorax is the prominent supernatural figure that the play deploys to depict unpredictable, indeterminate and horrible acts of creation unsanctioned by society. The paper shows how the fear of illegitimate birth not only shapes entire characters such as Sycorax and Caliban, but also infiltrates the language and figures that prevail in Prospero’s orchestrations of the marriage plot, his betrothal masque and his deployment of Greco-Roman mythologies (Hymen, Venus and Cupid). This fear is also connected with the play’s other fears and desires evoked in Gonzalo’s anarchist utopia and in the play’s preoccupations with the issue of legitimate government. The focus on the fear of illegitimate birth and non-contractual sexuality connects the different plot elements and rhetorical devices used in the play in a novel way, providing a plausible explanation for Prospero’s burst at Caliban in the masque scene and foregrounding (and hence doing justice to) the long-neglected figure of Sycorax.
34. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 3
Notes on Contributors
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35. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
Jeffrey Hipolito An Introduction to Owen Barfield’s The Unicorn
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36. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
Mark Zunac ‘There was something gentlemanly about your painting’: Art and Beauty’s Truth in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited
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While criticism of Evelyn’s Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited has generally focused on the novel’s Catholic themes, it has often overlooked the author’s exploration of certain correlative artistic values that that are both sustained by the Christian vision and integral to the development of a humane and soul-enriching culture. That culture for Waugh was necessarily grown out of an identifiable past and evoked by artistic representations of divine grace and human potential. This essay argues that Charles Ryder’s eventual Catholic conversion remains indispensable to the novel’s fulfillment of its author’s vision. This critical denouement, however, also serves to affirm the grace that is revealed throughout by the protagonist’s instinctive veneration for traditions besieged by a soulless and secular modernism. In this way, worldly beauty is intricately entwined with a life of virtue and can thus be seen as adjacent to those values hitherto singularly ascribed by critics of Brideshead to the Catholic mission.
37. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
Mary A. Melfi The Solidity of the Self: Turning and Returning in A Passage to India
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In A Passage to India, E.M. Forster examines the duality of three main characters, Mrs. Moore, Aziz, and Fielding and thereby demonstrates their relative stability in the primordial chaos of India. Unlike Adela who falls apart after her experience in the cave, these characters draw on the power of the imagination in a grappling struggle to remain morally centered when facing the darkness within. Forster suggests that turning to the East (where the Marabar caves represent darkness and destabilization) contrasts with returning to the West (where imaginative form represents order and light). In Mrs. Moore, Aziz, and Fielding, Forster examines the manner in which one might embrace a centered life committed to empathy for others by way of facing one’s own otherness. As these characters immerse themselves in India’s primordial formlessness and acknowledge their shadows, they embrace imaginative form rather than fall apart, and in doing so they serve as models of mythmakers and relative stability.
38. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
David N. Beauregard Love and Friendship in The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare, Aristotle and Aquinas
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The basic argument of the essay is that in The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare represents Aristotelian-Thomistic notions of love and friendship. In the attraction of Bassanio for Portia we have the three-fold analysis of love as desire for the useful, the pleasurable and the virtuous. In the male friendship between Antonio and Bassanio we see the liberal man’s virtuous desire to give and share his wealth with his friends. Both relationships are concerned with giving and taking, a reflection of the Aristotelian-Thomistic distinction between love as desire and love as friendship. A final note is the play’s conclusion in the Aristotelian goods of happiness, gratuitous good fortune with the safe arrival of Antonio’s ships, union in friendship and marriage with Portia and Bassanio, Nerissa and Gaziano, and the wonder and delight that is to follow with Portia’s answer to all remaining questions.
39. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 2
Notes on Contributors
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40. Renascence: Volume > 71 > Issue: 1
Maurizio Ascari Beyond Realism: Ian McEwan’s Atonement as a Postmodernist Quest for Meaning
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A complex and controversial novel, Atonement is at the core of a lively critical debate, opposing those who focus on the impossibility of Briony’s atonement – also in relation to the author’s atheist views – to those who conversely explore the redemptive quality of her “postlapsarian” painful self-fashioning. Far from concerning simply the destiny of a literary character, this debate has to do with the impact Postmodernist relativism has on both the conception of the human subject and the discourses of the past, from memory to history and fiction. Discarding any potentially nihilistic interpretations of Atonement as disempowering, this article delves into Ian McEwan’s multi-layered text in order to comprehend its ambivalences, its subtle investigation of the human condition, and its status as a postmemory novel reconnecting us to the events of World War Two.