Kristine Johanson: Interrogating Temporality in Early Modern England
|Date||7 March 2013|
This lecture problematizes our understanding of early modern representations of the past by interrogating the idea of nostalgia and early modern conceptions of time. I first question how we conceive of a seemingly ubiquitous idea: the idea of nostalgia. In particular, I contend that in order to fully understand the English Renaissance’s attitude toward nostalgia – its attitude toward the idealized past – we must relinquish our contemporary ideas of it. Early modern ideas of time demand that we do so, and I will examine shifting representations of fortuna and occasio to illustrate why that is. These changing ideas about Fortune and time in the Renaissance exemplify the changing perception both of how fortune could be controlled and of the limits of individual agency. Such shifts depend on a bifurcated notion of time that existed in early modern Europe. Recognizing the importance of different ideas of temporality and their relationship to Fortune, and using examples from early modern English drama to illustrate my claims, I argue for both a revision of contemporary critical conceptions of early modern nostalgia and a resistance to the imposition of universalizing notions of nostalgia on the early modern period. “Interrogating Temporality” thus draws attention to the problems of identifying a coherent idea of time in the Renaissance, inviting discussion about how early modern nostalgia is constructed and comprehended.
Location: VOC-zaal, Bushuis, Kloveniersburgwal 48, Amsterdam