SCMLA: Ren Lit no Drama (or Sara Keeth’s panel)

In live blogging this conference, I am following the conventions for conference blogging.

(Except that I didn’t post this right away. Had trouble with the internet and then forgot.)

Something is up with the internet in these conference rooms. I can’t post well and the internet seems to freeze. Although Twitter seems to be working.
Note: Not a particularly high tech topic, but they have tech. Perhaps it belongs to one of the presenters?

ENGLISH II: RENAISSANCE LITERATURE EXCLUDING DRAMA: Open Topic PART I (mostly poetry) (R)
Chair: Jessica C. Murphy, U of Texas-Dallas

Have two panels at this conference. This is the first.

1. “‘Death wrapped in flesh’: Disguised Desire and Poetic Performance in Philip Sidney’s Arcadia,” Kris McAbee, U of Arkansas-Little Rock
Prose romance and complicated via perspective and subjectivity. Sonnets as a signifier of that complex subjectivity.
Late 16th C
turn to sonnets to express their desires, appear to spontaneously break into sonnets
interest in world of sonnet in 16th century, to conjure the idea of the sonneteer
focus on several embedded sonnets
sonneteer’s performance, commonplace imagery connecting death and desire
1580 “completed”
1580s revisited
1586, Sidney dies with “new” version incomplete
1590, Greville publishes unfinished “new” version
1593, Mary Sidney adds last three books of “old” version
1621 Sir WM Alexander writes and adds 5.5 addt’l chapters
“hybrid monster”

disparate texts of the two books
18 sonnets in old
2 of these not in new, both shepherding songs in middle of book 2
1 sonnet added by Alexander in 1621
first is idealized sonnet and second is critical, realistic sonnet…
will mostly talk about other sonnets, but will include the Alexander sonnet… Suggests he saw the sonnet genre as a necessary portion of the text.
Pyrocles, Zelmane (new name) or Cleophilia (old name) cross-dressed
“more dangerous darts than death, love throws” –first line of Alexander’s sonnet
“where love with pleasure doth torment the mind”
His deathbed sonnet about how death is not as bad or painful as love. Pyrocles is dying and says that death is better than love. Chooses to dwell on the pain of his love rather than the impending death which will separate him from his love.
The ladies overhear. Change in perspective. The women are eavesdropping.
complications of disguise… “As soon as this song was ended, Pamela opened the door, saluting him still (so to disguise her knowledge) by the name of Zelmane, and asked in what estate she was with herself.” quote that shows the changing perspective… Poetic pose and poetic form is part of the sonneteer.
Sonnets are part of the narrative itself. Cleophila/Zelmane uses sonnets most often. Takes on role of sonneteer. Pyrocles has dressed as a woman to woo his love.
As desire is expressed more clearly, there are fewer sonnets. So the sonnets are primarily points of ambiguity (both identity and ?).
gender studies are interested: “Transformed in show, but more transformed in mind.” –gender-based narrative
Maria Pendergrast “Philoclea Parsed: Prose, Verse, and Femininity in Sidney’s Old Arcadia”
When characters evoke the sonneteer, they do so in different disguises.
Cleophilia (Pyrocles) in love with X, daughter of Basilius and Gynecia, both of whom are hitting on Cleophilia.
“I like this place where, at the least, the dark
May keep my thoughts from thought…”
Hears another sonnet… “come cave, become my grave!” Finds a sonnet written on a piece of paper. Gynecia is wasting away, “like death wrapped in flesh.”
Characters are hearing each other’s hiding. Similar to “love’s labours lost”
“Private” yet accidentally public sonnets, soneeteer expressing supposedly private thoughts. Force the characters to take on disguises.
Characters are united in their sonneteering. Overlapping modes of the text.
Thus by the height of the mode in the 1590, sonneteers appear in other genres. Appear in drama, walking across the stage. Sidney’s Arcadia signals that sonneteers show up in prose fiction as well. Sonnet is the only text that crosses genre.

2. “Echoes within the Void: Anxiety and Negation in the Love Poetry of Katherine Philips,” Sara Keeth, U of Texas-Dallas

Start discussion about 17th C poety, with a quote about Adrienne Rich “in a culture where words are … dominant… by men,… must… or seek for themselves… experiences which start to free the woman… from male”
Is she subverting herself OR is she looking for…
echo of male literary tradition of male friendship. She is using this as a starting point for her original language.
She is appropriating traditionally male genres. Trying to use and subvert masculine. Deeply influenced by Donne; her negation may be borrowed from Donne’s “anti-Petrarchan” poem. Describes her lover by what she is NOT. not, except by negatives. The power of negation to describe perfect love. Use of negation to describe love of two women…
Is it an echo? Does she need Donne’s authority?
Lesbianism is hard to see in early modern English. significance and insignificance are coming in what we see. The tensions are between the visible and the invisible. How else can she describe the embodiment of something that cannot be seen?
2 poems, love poem, describe what it is not. Mainly as an argument against men’s love. Talk about lack of perfection in heterosexual.
“To Ordelia” no slavery of state… political upheaval is absent from pastoral bower… implying that they seek shade together and find happiness and peace… insists on what will not happen…
negative space as vagina possibly or as empty space where echo can happen. Negation only appropriating Donne?

in “Contentment…Lucasia” 10 of 12 are negations of topic of contentment. equating passion and bondage. Phillips equates bondage as marriage. Phillips shows dangers for women in marriage, heterosexual love. The couple are removed from political: “cannot wish for other things than privacy and friendship brings.”
Also “Friendship” does define true love, intimate friendship between two women. “She’s worse than beast who cannot love…” Leaves to reader the way that love can be gained. “This is friendship… that mortals cannot name.” “neither hurt, nor smoke, nor noise is made.” = negative perception of heterosexual love
proves by example that revolt is possible—explicit comparison in frontispiece of 1667 edition of her poem… Phillips imitates Donne more than Sappho. Donne writes the same-sex love poem of Sappho to Philenus.
Perhaps Phillips is claiming Sappho as her foremother. But no evidence for that.
Deal offers different idea when looking at Adrienne Rich. “escaping the desires of male-dominated poetry”
lesbian tropes in Donne’s poem (in Grease, Grice, Griece? paper)
Lesbian trope is sometimes linked to homosexual desire, but more often used to show interdependent intimacy of male poets to his poetic contemporaries and his predecessors. Donne is working out his relationship to Ovid, whose description of Sappho… Donne re-wrote Sappho history, that says Sappho is homosexual. Donne is appropriating a female voice in order to overcome his experience…
Female love poetry has already been appropriated by male poets to work out their own intimacy issues.
Phillips does subvert her own speech, appropriating Donne, while using the experiences that are only available to women. Female subject should free Phillips. But the experience of lesbianism has been appropriated by men. “poetic system of production that normalizes … creative…” (Griece, Greise?)
“How can a woman poet… predominant shaping … of relationships that form art?” (Deal)
creativity would seem to work in Phillips’ favor
but as muse, she is denied poetic authority
metaphorically forced back into a heterosexual experience with men poets
to use discourse to describe her relationship with women
Cavalier form of poetry uses male homoerotic; lesbian experience still used by Donne. Does that mean she cannot speak in her own voice.
She is still borrowing from forefathers.
Female lesbian poet does not need to define her male forefathers. Phillips appears to be conforming to male poetry. Performance is more complicated when lesbian experience is claimed by men. Leaves only the negative space to speak without echoing men. (But men use negation, so how does that work?)

3. “‘To be death’s conquest’: Sonnet 6 and the Ultimate Sex Act,” Matt Brumit, U of Dallas
Comes from a much longer paper. Going to skip 8 pages of close reading…
Shakespeare’s impetus to write seems to be how to make beauties rose from dying? Opening argument of the sequence is one possible answer: procreation.

Sonnet 35 is next use of the word rose.

Speaker has a view of the rose as himself, his narration. Sonnet 3, 4… transitioning to a financial one “what acceptable audit does thou leave”

perfume = rose water

Sonnet 6 particularly interesting because it works as an introduction to many ideas. Offers distillation as an alternative means of …
Abstinence is also a sexual act. If no other time, after death the body will create -> even if parasite. “to make worms thine heir”
Sonnet 6 ideal door to the reading the overall sequence.

Begins with “Then” relates to Sonnet 5. Then and than were same word in early Mod English. So shows up in 1, 9, and 11. Begins with winter and then summer… Flips order that is expected and is in Sonnet 5. Winter has a ragged hand. Personification of winter.
Winter… face… fair youth is in danger of having his face ripped off by winter.

vial becomes a woman, even a vile woman. Alliteration here, refers to vagina. Treasure becomes penis or semen. Treasure is interesting because it shifts the metaphor into financial imagery (first introduced in sonnet 4).

Mixing of metaphors is not a bad thing.

With financial imagery, he is principal and his children are interest. Actually an inverse relationship. Loan in l. 6. 100 grandchildren, 1000 great-grandchildren. Fair youth is seeking to put himself into a vial.

Seems like mixing metaphors is a problem.
Procreation = fair youth’s looks, vial and perfume seem to want to preserve his scent
also appears that wants to preserve his substance (which no one knows what that is)

metapoetic, word 10, shows up first time in line 8, 9, in 10 2x, in the poem 5 times. Metapoetic argument. Pun on early modern spelling of “to be” form of art. Speaker is an artist. This is a work of art. Can preserve the fair youth through art.

What can death do? Viable ways that the fair youth can subvert death. Couplet shows what will happen if death gets the fair youth first.

Speaker says you can have tons of offspring, immortality of verse, or have worms be the fair youth’s heir.

Notion of death’s worms… penetrate (male), reproduce (female), possess substance (child)… All the arguments relate to sexuality. All have sexual consequences. Conquest of death over the speaker’s body.

Speaker wants fair youth to have better partner and better children than before death. But fair youth will be acted upon, not an actor, in the ultimate sexual experience.
Sonnet 129… negative view of sex (?)

Sonnet 6 speaker suggests there are at least 3 ways that fair youth can overcome death.

Sonnet 146, speaker returns to fair youth.
Reveals striking unity in the overall work.

“So shalt thou feed on death…”
If sequence ended with 146, I would call it a Christian sequence.
But 8 more sonnets.
Sonnet 147 ends with hell.
Sonnet 148 seems to reject earthly love.
Sonnet 149 speaker says I am blind.
Sonnet 150 echoes Paul’s complaint.
Sonnet 151 “tho want of conscience, … for whose dear love I rise and fall”
Sonnet 152 chooses to foreswear himself rather than his love
seems to foreshadow Milton’s Adam, who chooses to fall rather than deal with living without Eve
Sonnet 153, 154 seems like pagan afterlife… Perhaps the only thing worse than death and decay.
This may be what Shakespeare’s sonnets are about, but I don’t think that works. Sequence as a whole is too variegated. Sequence has too much weight in death.

Shakespeare makes beautiful the image of worms eating body of fair youth.

Questions:
Arcadia and Phillips, negative space is homoerotic, homosocial
Is cave negative space? I think it is an infinite space.
Negative space as opening up a space for a feminine voice.
All the sonnets in the cave have a seemingly feminine voice.
Phillips is very careful to use only feminine pronouns for Zelmena.
So the cave becomes the feminine.

What Phillips is doing is radical.

Spencer’s cave … is also feminine… also a hybrid monster.
Mary Sidney got herself involved in this in an extremely problematic way.
Just to bring in the worms… Cavalier poets bring in the worms too. Worm penetrating her virginity in death.

Cave becomes infinitely womblike and regenerative of sonnets.

kind of related to that… Julia Lufton wrote paper on Shakespeare’s play Perocles and female space in creation. Really interesting in light of both of your presentations. Sees a material connection to work as feminine in Shakespeare’s play Perocles. Not poetry, but interesting.

Cave, womb, did not work. Because negation did not work. Phillips particularly.
Interesting, because womb in that sense would imply heteronormative use of the womb. With other women, might also make it work with the negative, because it is negating the reproduction.

Shakespeare is asking what are we going to do with all this masculine?

10x10x10x10… only works in the age of digital production. Print these up. Run out of print presses. This is AFTER 10x10x10x10 sonnets have been produced.

Gendered space and place in the narrative.

So is the rose hermaphroditic? Is it both male and female?
Rose equated more with fair youth. Don’t know if rose image really carries over.
Can rose be both fair youth and dark lady? Doesn’t seem that.

“no roses in her cheeks” = negation

There are some roses known for being able to reproduce themselves.
Practice of grafting on roses started around that time period. Kind of production itself.

Sonnet 18 I’ll just stick my poetry on there and we’re good.
grafting?

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