Catalogue


Animal characters : nonhuman beings in early modern literature /
Bruce Thomas Boehrer.
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
description
238 p. : ill.
ISBN
9780812242492 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
isbn
9780812242492 (acid-free paper)
contents note
Introduction: animal studies and the problem of character -- Baiardo's legacy -- The cardinal's parrot -- Ecce feles -- The people's peacock -- "Vulgar sheepe" -- Conclusion: O blazing world.
catalogue key
7078546
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2011-01-01:
Focusing on the real and literary treatment of nonhuman animals in the early modern period (with occasional visits to the medieval and modern periods), Boehrer (Florida State Univ.) argues that studying that treatment allows one to see the development of the literary character. He points out that the trend is almost always to demystify animals and thereby simplify their metaphorical status away from a similarity to or connection with humans. Horses in medieval epics, for example, have rational thought and can choose what riders to bear and which to shake off. By the time Milton is writing his epic, many-faced cherubim have replaced rational horses as warrior companions, and references to the actual horse are inconsequential. The same holds true for parrots, cats, and so on, and Boehrer's evidence and arguments are generally impressive (only the chapter on sheep falls short, as the allegorical complexity of the sheep is too much for any one chapter). The author draws not only from Shakespeare and Milton, but also from more obscure English texts and from classical and Continental works. As a whole, the book is lively and engaging, and Boehrer supports his arguments exceptionally well. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. A. Castaldo Widener University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"An interesting take on the problematic question of literary character, as well as a significant contribution to scholarship on anthropocentrism and the cultural history of personhood. The enthusiasm and scope of the writing make it an engaging read, and the depth and breadth of the source material is quite fascinating."- Medieval Review
"An interesting take on the problematic question of literary character, as well as a significant contribution to scholarship on anthropocentrism and the cultural history of personhood. The enthusiasm and scope of the writing make it an engaging read, and the depth and breadth of the source material is quite fascinating."- The Medieval Review
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 2011
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Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
"Our 2500-Year-Long Fascination with the World's Most Talkative Bird Bruce Thomas Boehrer" ""As both a fiction writer and a lover of parrots, I was delighted and enlightened by Parrot Culture. This is an enchanting book."---Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" ""Engrossing....Bruce Thomas Boehrer concentrates his well-stocked mind on what over the centuries we humans have done to, and done with, parrots."---Times Literary Supplement" "During the Renaissance, horses---long considered the privileged, even sentient companions of knights-errant---gradually lost their special place on the field of battle and with it their distinctive status in the world of chivalric heroism. Parrots, once the miraculous, articulate companions of popes and emperors, declined into figures of mindless mimicry. Cats, which were tortured by Catholics in the Middle Ages, were tortured in the Reformation as part of the Protestant attack on Catholicism. And sheep, the model for Agnus Deiimagery, underwent transformations at once legal, material, and spiritual as a result of their changing role in Europe's growing manufacturing and trade economies. While in the Middle Ages, these nonhumans were endowed with privileged social associations, personal agency, even the ability to reason and speak, in the early modern period they lost these qualities at the very same time that a new emphasis on, and understanding of, human character was developing in European literature."."In Animal Characters Bruce Thomas Boehrer follows five species---the horse, the parrot, the cat, the turkey, and the sheep---through their appearances in an eclectic mix of texts, from romances and poetry to cookbooks and natural histories. He shows how dramatic changes in animal character types between 1400 and 1700 relate to the emerging economy and culture of the European Renaissance. In early modern European culture, animals not only served humans as sources of labor, companionship, clothing, and food; these nonhuman creatures helped to form an understanding of personhood. Incorporating readings of Shakespeare's plays, Milton's Paradise Lost, Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World, and other works, Boehrer's series of animal character studies illuminates a fascinating period of change in interspecies relationships"--BOOK JACKET.
Main Description
During the Renaissance, horses-long considered the privileged, even sentient companions of knights-errant-gradually lost their special place on the field of battle, and with it their distinctive status in the world of chivalric heroism. Parrots, once the miraculous, articulate companions of popes and emperors, declined into figures of mindless mimicry. Cats, which were tortured by Catholics in the Middle Ages, were tortured in the Reformation as part of the Protestant attack on Catholicism. And sheep, the model for Agnus Dei imagery, underwent transformations at once legal, material, and spiritual as a result of their changing role in Europe's growing manufacturing and trade economies. While in the Middle Ages, these nonhumans were endowed with privileged social associations, personal agency, even the ability to reason and speak, in the early modern period they lost these qualities, at the very same time that a new emphasis on, and understanding of, human character was developing in European literature. InAnimal CharactersBruce Thomas Boehrer follows five species-the horse, the parrot, the cat, the turkey, and the sheep-through their appearances in an eclectic mix of texts, from romances and poetry to cookbooks and natural histories. He shows how dramatic changes in animal character types between 1400 and 1700 relate to the emerging economy and culture of the European Renaissance. In early modern European culture, animals not only served humans as sources of labor, companionship, clothing, and food; these nonhuman creatures helped to form an understanding of personhood. Incorporating readings of works such as Shakespeare's plays, Milton'sParadise Lost, and Margaret Cavendish'sBlazing World, Boehrer's series of animal character studies illuminates a fascinating period of change in interspecies relationships.
Main Description
During the Renaissance, horses-long considered the privileged, even sentient companions of knights-errant-gradually lost their special place on the field of battle and, with it, their distinctive status in the world of chivalric heroism. Parrots, once the miraculous, articulate companions of popes and emperors, declined into figures of mindless mimicry. Cats, which were tortured by Catholics in the Middle Ages, were tortured in the Reformation as part of the Protestant attack on Catholicism. And sheep, the model for Agnus Dei imagery, underwent transformations at once legal, material, and spiritual as a result of their changing role in Europe's growing manufacturing and trade economies. While in the Middle Ages these nonhumans were endowed with privileged social associations, personal agency, even the ability to reason and speak, in the early modern period they lost these qualities at the very same time that a new emphasis on, and understanding of, human character was developing in European literature. In Animal CharactersBruce Thomas Boehrer follows five species-the horse, the parrot, the cat, the turkey, and the sheep-through their appearances in an eclectic mix of texts, from romances and poetry to cookbooks and natural histories. He shows how dramatic changes in animal character types between 1400 and 1700 relate to the emerging economy and culture of the European Renaissance. In early modern European culture, animals not only served humans as sources of labor, companionship, clothing, and food; these nonhuman creatures helped to form an understanding of personhood. Incorporating readings of Shakespeare's plays, Milton's Paradise Lost, Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World, and other works, Boehrer's series of animal character studies illuminates a fascinating period of change in interspecies relationships.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Animal Studies and the Problem of Characterp. 1
Baiardo's Legacyp. 28
The Cardinal's Parrotp. 74
Ecce Felesp. 107
The People's Peacockp. 133
"Vulgar Sheepe"p. 164
Conclusion: O Blazing Worldp. 191
Notesp. 203
Works Citedp. 209
Indexp. 229
Acknowledgmentsp. 237
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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