Literature and society Refinement of the French language At the beginning of the 17th century the full flowering of the Classical manner was still remote, but various signs of a tendency toward order, stability, and refinement can be seen. A widespread desire for cultural self-improvement, which is also a sign of the pressures to conformity in a society constructing itself around the king and his court, is reflected in the numerous manuals of politesse, or formal politeness, that appeared through the first half of the century; while at the celebrated salon of Mme de Rambouillet men of letters, mostly of bourgeois origin, and the nobility and leaders of fashionable society mixed in an easy relationship to enjoy the pleasures of the mind. Such gatherings did much to refine the literary language and also helped to prepare a cultured public that could engage in the serious analysis of moral and psychological problems.
Queen Mary, University of London Citation: It partly draws on Michael Macdonald's seminal work on the popular beliefs and social practices related to insanity in 17th-century England, and on his lucid analysis of the detailed case notes of the physician Richard Napier.
But it also seeks to examine the perspectives of the sufferers by focusing on three spiritual autobiographies by people who had experienced and recovered from some transient form of madness during that century.
Furthermore, its intricate exploration of the articulations of the self makes this study distinct from Jeremy Schmidt's recent work on the intertwining of medicine, religion and moral philosophy in the English 17th-century context. The second, published in and indeals with the melancholia suffered 20 years earlier by the widowed Hanna Allen, whose respectable Presbyterian mercantile family lived in Derbyshire and London.
The third, written in and published posthumously in and inpresents the episodes of hallucination, delirium and violence experienced in the mids by George Trosse, the reprobate grandson of a West Country merchant, before undergoing conversion and becoming a Nonconformist minister in Exeter.
All three people turned to autobiographical writing after experiencing a radical crisis of identity and transformation; having come to be seen by their financially comfortable families, doctors and carers as mentally disturbed, they received medical treatment and spiritual guidance, and interpreted their eventual recovery in spiritual terms.
Noting that these three narratives offer more detail about the specific domestic, geographic, religious and historical circumstances of their protagonists, and about their relationships to other people, than most of the spiritual autobiographies written in England during this period, Hodgkin discusses their main themes in a fairly broad context: She also reflects on how first-person accounts of madness may provide clues for a broader understanding of 17th-century articulations of the self and subjectivity in writing, in language and in the body, and within familial and social relations.
In examining the specific cultural contexts of three examples of mental disturbance, Hodgkin convincingly argues that madness and sanity need to be seen as a continuum, and that the themes and tensions underlying the narratives she examines are but 'the more general raw materials of psychic life' p.
Taking the view that 'people go mad with the cultural materials they have to hand' p. Endorsing the value of seemingly universal psychoanalytical concepts such as the unconscious, fantasy and memory as analytical tools that may help understand the 'articulation of psychic processes with and in culture' p.
Hodgkin undertakes this by engaging with crucial theoretical and practical questions about how we may best approach the historical study of madness. She acknowledges the controversial reception in Anglo-American academia of Foucault's approach, but nonetheless defends the validity of his general suggestions about how madness has been constructed through language and through the institutions which have dealt with the mad.
While Foucault's emphasis was on how 17th-century French institutions created an artificial separation between the sane and the insane, confining the latter to silence, Hodgkin demonstrates on a much smaller scale how the division between sanity and insanity, reason and unreason, is indeed artificial.
Inspired by Foucault's label 'archaeology of silence', Hodgkin shows awareness of the practical implications of seeking to give a voice to the mad. In her theoretical discussion she takes on board the seemingly extreme view that 'language itself excludes the possibility of mad speech' p.
However, her ensuing analysis offers a much more nuanced picture of the fluidity of the early modern conceptions of madness, and of mad people's access to language.
The protagonists of the three chosen narratives show a wide range of symptoms related to speech.
For instance, Fitzherbert was speechless for many days p. Similarly, Allen's melancholy manifested as two extreme forms of linguistic behaviour: The three narratives discussed by Hodgkin also show how the experience of madness is necessarily shaped by 'language' in a broader sense, by being inscribed in the available discourses which grant it meaning.
Thus, Fitzherbert's and Trosse's retrospective accounts of transient, reversible states of 'confusion' and 'delusion' resort to religious discourse to make sense of those experiences in terms typical of spiritual autobiography: Whether they had actually been mad, as Trosse seems to believe, or simply been perceived as mad, as Fitzherbert argues, their narratives shed important light on the blurred boundaries between reason and unreason, and on the intricate relationship between religion and mental disorder.
It is possible to argue that some 17th-century religious practices might have exacerbated mental disturbance, and that religion might have been particularly attractive to those with 'turbulent personalities'.
Nonetheless, Hodgkin's study demonstrates how religion, rather than being a cause or effect, acted as a language through which mental disorder was both experienced and articulated. The experience of madness was not only understood but also shaped by the available medical, religious and moral ideas.
Thus, for instance, Fitzherbert recounts how she was 'as one utterly deprived of all sense and understanding' MS e Mus. Even though people might have seen her distracted behaviour as laughable, or attributed it to physical causes, Fitzherbert insists that they should be made aware of the true religious significance of her distractedness, caused by her intense affliction of conscience.
Allen, on the other hand, does not appear to have perceived any separation between the mental, spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of the melancholia she suffered following her husband's death.
However, even though sexual abstinence was perceived by her contemporaries as a possible cause of melancholia in women, Allen makes no reference to this. She provides instead a religious explanation: In 17th-century England, it was not uncommon for madness to be perceived as a punishment from God.
The early modern interaction between religion and medicine in explaining and dealing with mental disturbance is well illustrated by the autobiographical accounts of Fitzherbert, Allen and Trosse. Their experience of madness was related to, and often indistinguishable from, affliction of conscience for sin.This article presents lists of literary events and publications in the 16th century.
One of the earliest sixteenth-century works of English literature, Thomas More's Utopia, was written in Latin for an international intellectual community. It was only translated into English during the s, nearly a half-century after its original publication in Britain.
In the mid to late 19th century, English literature increasingly addressed social concerns, yielding the utopian writings of William Morris and Samuel Butler, the psychological analysis of George Eliot, the realistic novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, and the nationalistic stories and fables of Rudyard Kipling.
General Introductions to the Renaissance Overview of the 16th Century - Norton Topics Online Renaissance - The Annenberg/CPB Project The Renaissance - Michael S.
Seiferth History, Politics, and Law Renaissance Backgrounds: A Chronological Outline - Dr. Harriette Andreadis Millennium Timeline: The 16th Century ( - ) - Greenwich Renaissance Humanism - The Annenberg/CPB .
Notes: By , though English remained somewhat peripheral on the continent, it had been transformed into an immensely powerful expressive medium, as employed by Shakespeare, Marlowe, and the translators of the Bible. England in the early sixteenth century had a single religion, Catholicism.
The major literary modes of the . This chapter examines the background to the reformation in Ireland, exploring in particular the reaction of the Anglo-Irish community in Dublin, showing how by the end of the 16th century the community had split decisively into a Catholic majority and a small protestant minority.
In response, a new protestant seminary, Trinity College, Dublin, was founded.