Catalogue


Sick economies : drama, mercantilism, and disease in Shakespeare's England /
Jonathan Gil Harris.
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2004.
description
263 p.
ISBN
0812237730 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2004.
isbn
0812237730 (acid-free paper)
catalogue key
5085834
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2004-07-01:
In this important book, Harris explores the early modern discourse of mercantilism, tracing its merger with the discourse of bodily illness, a confluence that eventuates in such expressions as "inflation" and "capital"--both originally specialized medical terms. A third discourse emerges in the wake of a paradigm shift that concerns the origin of diseases. Formerly, people attributed sickness to an imbalance of humors, but they increasingly came to see it as an invasion of foreign agents into the body. Soon, people viewed their country's economic problems that way. If their nation's economy lagged, it lagged because forces from other countries, like invasive diseases attacking an individual's body, deliberately set out to harm it. Thus, a tripartite discourse emerged and began manifesting itself, especially in literature. For example, by the end of the 16th century, "adventure" signified both a romantic quest and a commercial venture. This same discourse pervades plays by Shakespeare (e.g., The Merchant of Venice, The Comedy of Errors, Troilus and Cressida) and by Jonson, Heywood, Massinger, Middleton, and Dekker (hence the subtitle). ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. M. W. Price Grove City College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Harris has successfully argued a decidedly unique angle of interpretation. What may have initially struck the reader as an impossibly broad scope of inquiry is revealed, through rigorous textual analysis, as an intriguing interdisciplinary perspective that will certainly impact subsequent scholarship."- Comitatus
"In this important book Harris explores the early modern discourse of mercantilism, tracing its merger with the discourse of bodily illness."--Choice
"In this important book Harris explores the early modern discourse of mercantilism, tracing its merger with the discourse of bodily illness."- Choice
"Sick Economies, wholeheartedly committed to the recovery of noncanonical early modern writing, shows what can happen when a keen literary intelligence is applied to nonliterary texts. The result is a truly interdisciplinary and refreshingly readable book."--Times Literary Supplement
"Harris has successfully argued a decidedly unique angle of interpretation. What may have initially struck the reader as an impossibly broad scope of inquiry is revealed, through rigorous textual analysis, as an intriguing interdisciplinary perspective that will certainly impact subsequent scholarship."--Comitatus
"This book offers great insight into the Renaissance discourses of the body, the emergence of mercantile theory, and early modern drama."--Seventeenth-Century News
"This book offers great insight into the Renaissance discourses of the body, the emergence of mercantile theory, and early modern drama."- Seventeenth-Century News
" Sick Economies , wholeheartedly committed to the recovery of noncanonical early modern writing, shows what can happen when a keen literary intelligence is applied to nonliterary texts. The result is a truly interdisciplinary and refreshingly readable book."- Times Literary Supplement
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, July 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
From French Physiocrat theories of the blood-like circulation of wealth to Adam Smith's "invisible hand" of the market, the body has played a crucial role in Western perceptions of the economic. In Renaissance culture, however, the dominant bodily metaphors for national wealth and economy were derived from the relatively new language of infectious disease. Whereas traditional Galenic medicine had understood illness as a state of imbalance within the body, early modern writers increasingly reimagined disease as an invasive foreign agent. The rapid rise of global trade in the sixteenth century, and the resulting migrations of people, money, and commodities across national borders, contributed to this growing pathologization of the foreign; conversely, the new trade-inflected vocabularies of disease helped writers to represent the contours of national and global economies. Grounded in scrupulous analyses of cultural and economic history,Sick Economies: Drama, Mercantilism, and Disease in Shakespeare's Englandteases out the double helix of the pathological and the economic in two seemingly disparate spheres of early modern textual production: drama and mercantilist writing. Of particular interest to this study are the ways English playwrights, such as Shakespeare, Jonson, Heywood, Massinger, and Middleton, and mercantilists, such as Malynes, Milles, Misselden, and Mun, rooted their conceptions of national economy in the language of disease. Some of these diseases--syphilis, taint, canker, plague, hepatitis--have subsequently lost their economic connotations; others--most notably consumption--remain integral to the modern economic lexicon but have by and large shed their pathological senses. Breaking new ground by analyzing English mercantilism primarily as a discursive rather than an ideological or economic system,Sick Economiesprovides a compelling history of how, even in our own time, defenses of transnational economy have paradoxically pathologized the foreign. In the process, Jonathan Gil Harris argues that what we now regard as the discrete sphere of the economic cannot be disentangled from seemingly unrelated domains of Renaissance culture, especially medicine and the theater.
Main Description
From French Physiocrat theories of the blood-like circulation of wealth to Adam Smith's "invisible hand" of the market, the body has played a crucial role in Western perceptions of the economic. In Renaissance culture, however, the dominant bodily metaphors for national wealth and economy were derived from the relatively new language of infectious disease. Whereas traditional Galenic medicine had understood illness as a state of imbalance within the body, early modern writers increasingly reimagined disease as an invasive foreign agent. The rapid rise of global trade in the sixteenth century, and the resulting migrations of people, money, and commodities across national borders, contributed to this growing pathologization of the foreign; conversely, the new trade-inflected vocabularies of disease helped writers to represent the contours of national and global economies. Grounded in scrupulous analyses of cultural and economic history, Sick Economies: Drama, Mercantilism, and Disease in Shakespeare's England teases out the double helix of the pathological and the economic in two seemingly disparate spheres of early modern textual production: drama and mercantilist writing. Of particular interest to this study are the ways English playwrights, such as Shakespeare, Jonson, Heywood, Massinger, and Middleton, and mercantilists, such as Malynes, Milles, Misselden, and Mun, rooted their conceptions of national economy in the language of disease. Some of these diseases-syphilis, taint, canker, plague, hepatitis-have subsequently lost their economic connotations; others-most notably consumption-remain integral to the modern economic lexicon but have by and large shed their pathological senses. Breaking new ground by analyzing English mercantilism primarily as a discursive rather than an ideological or economic system, Sick Economies provides a compelling history of how, even in our own time, defenses of transnational economy have paradoxically pathologized the foreign. In the process, Jonathan Gil Harris argues that what we now regard as the discrete sphere of the economic cannot be disentangled from seemingly unrelated domains of Renaissance culture, especially medicine and the theater.
Main Description
From French Physiocrat theories of the blood-like circulation of wealth to Adam Smith's "invisible hand" of the market, the body has played a crucial role in Western perceptions of the economic. In Renaissance culture, however, the dominant bodily metaphors for national wealth and economy were derived from the relatively new language of infectious disease. Whereas traditional Galenic medicine had understood illness as a state of imbalance within the body, early modern writers increasingly reimagined disease as an invasive foreign agent. The rapid rise of global trade in the sixteenth century, and the resulting migrations of people, money, and commodities across national borders, contributed to this growing pathologization of the foreign; conversely, the new trade-inflected vocabularies of disease helped writers to represent the contours of national and global economies. Grounded in scrupulous analyses of cultural and economic history, Sick Economies: Drama, Mercantilism, and Disease in Shakespeare's England teases out the double helix of the pathological and the economic in two seemingly disparate spheres of early modern textual production: drama and mercantilist writing. Of particular interest to this study are the ways English playwrights, such as Shakespeare, Jonson, Heywood, Massinger, and Middleton, and mercantilists, such as Malynes, Milles, Misselden, and Mun, rooted their conceptions of national economy in the language of disease. Some of these diseases--syphilis, taint, canker, plague, hepatitis--have subsequently lost their economic connotations; others--most notably consumption--remain integral to the modern economic lexicon but have by and large shed their pathological senses. Breaking new ground by analyzing English mercantilism primarily as a discursive rather than an ideological or economic system, Sick Economies provides a compelling history of how, even in our own time, defenses of transnational economy have paradoxically pathologized the foreign. In the process, Jonathan Gil Harris argues that what we now regard as the discrete sphere of the economic cannot be disentangled from seemingly unrelated domains of Renaissance culture, especially medicine and the theater.
Table of Contents
The Asian Flu Or, The Pathological Drama of National Economy
Syphilis and Trade: Thomas Starkey, Thomas Smith, The Comedy of Errors
Taint and Usury: Gerard Malynes, The Dutch Church Libel, The Merchant of Venice
Canker/Serpego and Value: Gerard Malynes, Troilus and Cressida
Plague and Transmigration: Timothy Bright, Thomas Milles, Volpone
Hepatitis/Castration and Treasure: Edward Misselden, Gerard Malynes, The Fair Maid of the West, The Renegado
Consumption and Consumption: Thomas Mun, The Roaring Girl
Afterword: Anthrax, Cyberworms, and the New Ethereal Economy
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Acknowledgments
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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