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Humanism, Machinery, and Renaissance Literature
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  • Page extent: 318 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.64 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 820.9/384
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PR428.H8 W65 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • English literature--Early modern, 10-1700--History and criticism
    • England--Intellectual life--16th century
    • Humanism in literature
    • Machinery in literature
    • Mechanics in literature

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521831871 | ISBN-10: 0521831873)

This book explores how machinery and the practice of mechanics participate in the intellectual culture of Renaissance humanism. Before the emergence of the concept of technology, sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century writers recognised the applicability of mechanical practices and objects to some of their most urgent moral, aesthetic, and political questions. The construction, use, and representation of devices including clocks, scientific instruments, stage machinery, and war engines not only reflect but also actively reshape how Renaissance writers define and justify artifice and instrumentality - the reliance upon instruments, mechanical or otherwise, to achieve a particular end. Harnessing the discipline of mechanics to their literary and philosophical concerns, scholars and poets including Francis Bacon, Edmund Spenser, George Chapman, and Gabriel Harvey look to machinery to ponder and dispute all manner of instrumental means, from rhetoric and pedagogy to diplomacy and courtly dissimulation.

• A subtle rethinking of the relationship between humanistic and scientific culture during the Renaissance • Sheds light on these issues through a genuinely interdisciplinary approach, the book uses literary history, intellectual history, history of science, and history of art • This book will be of interest to literary, cultural and scientific historians alike


Acknowledgements; Introduction: subtle devices: renaissance humanism and its machinery; 1. Automatopoesis: machinery and courtliness in renaissance Urbino; 2. Artificial motions: machinery, courtliness, and discipline in renaissance England; 3. Inanimate ambassadors: the mechanics and politics of mediation; 4. The polymechany of Gabriel Harvey; 5. Homer in a nutshell: Chapman and the mechanics of perspicuity; 6. Inhumanism: Spenser's iron man; Conclusion.


'Individual scholars interested in the idea of mechanism or the mechanical in the Renaissance, or more generally in history of our understanding of machines, will find it an extremely useful place to start or continue their studies …' Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching

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