Article Abstracts


The Golden Man and the Golden Age: The Relationship of English Poets and the New World Reconsidered.
David McInnis, University of Melbourne.

George Chapman's De Guiana, Carmen Epicum (1596) is usually regarded as pro-colonisation propaganda, written in support of Walter Raleigh's proposed ventures to the New World. The fact that it is heavily freighted with allusions to classical literature might accordingly be taken as a sign that Chapman was attempting to glorify the New World expeditions, and to a certain extent this is indeed the case. However, by reading De Guiana in the context of other early-modern poetic responses to the New World, it appears that deeper epistemological concerns underscore Chapman's use of a classical framework. With their frame of reference and consequently their very language in a state of crisis, European poets faced a formidable challenge in writing about the strange New World for which no adequate words yet existed. This paper analyses works by Chapman, Drayton and Marvell, in order to better appreciate some of the ways in which poetry responded to the task of conveying the American experiences to European readers.

The Rumbling Belly Politic: Metaphorical Location and Metaphorical Government in Coriolanus.
Nate Eastman, Lehigh University

That the rioting plebians in Coriolanus found their inspiration in the Midlands Insurrection has, over the past fifty years, become a textbook orthodoxy which has not only been used to date the play's composition to 1607/1608, but to frame the terms of its understood political conflicts. But the play's setting, along with other elements, suggests that its opening scene may recall elements of London's 1595 Tower Hill riot. Although this does not necessarily suggest an earlier date of composition or performance, it does reframe various of the opening scene's social and political concerns. First among these is the play's awareness of London's increasingly visible bureaucratic and administrative civic structures, which played an important role in relieving the dearth of 1593-97, and more closely parallel Shakespeare's republican Rome than do the increasingly enclosed yet practically feudal Midlands. The critical implications of re-reading this opening scene are briefly explicated in a comparative reading of its famous body politic, in which that body's rearticulation as a system of distribution by the belly, rather than a system of governance by the head, reflects the increasing visibility of London's administrative structures during the Great Dearth.

Witchcraft, flight and the early modern English stage.
Roy Booth, Royal Holloway.


Milton’s Titles
John K. Hale

Milton’s titling practices are examined from four main standpoints. First, ideas about titling as a speech-act are applied from Gérard Genette’s seminal study in Paratexts. Next, the unusual degree of multilingualism in his practice is charted; and then their favoured syntax, a feature more presupposed than foregrounded but distinctive. Signs of development within his practice are drawn from the Trinity Manuscript, where dozens of possible poems exist solely as titles, and where he tries out successive titles for the emergent Paradise Lost. Throughout, the essay’s aim is to defamiliarize the titles of his three last English poems, so as to rethink the implied relations between each title and its whole. “Paradise Lost” in particular is a title of great power, fit to stand like the poem itself among the very greatest.


© 2007-, Matthew Steggle (Editor, EMLS).