Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Ad Fontes: Currently "Trending" is collecting the material culture reminiscent of past decades. The pursuit of originality and authenticity is found by a return to the artistic expressions of previous eras. It's not uncommon for popular bands to cover songs from past artists, just as Eddie Vedder and Beyonce collaborated to perform Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." There is a validation that comes from modern artistic expression when previous forms of media are referenced.
Brave New World: Although there are less places uncovered by exploration, a popular atitude of travel reverence, or the personal necessity of travel, has made the exotic of foreign world's just as popular today as it was during the renaissance. Food travel blogs, especially those that come with a bevvy of visual graphics are extremely popular. Social media accounts such as Tumblr and Pinterest display images of foreign places along with the sacredity of wanderlust - the same pursuit of finding a new place beyond the things of man.
What a Piece of Work is Man: Social media has enabled minority groups to make their view point more accessible to the masses. This could be seen in the Egyptian rebellion of the Arab Spring when Facebook was used as a tool to gain international awareness, warn protestors of police dispatches, and coordinate protests. Similarly, in places like Baltimore or Ferguson where African American protestors feel they are being unfairly represented by the media they turn to protesting on social media platforms. That these protests have been recieving recent attention, despite the size of the groups they represent, shows an increase in concern over the welfare of the individual.
Plough Boys and Bibles: Education is an indisputable right and most often there have been charitable movements to educate those who are either prevented or find themselves unable to access schooling. Recently, Emma Watsons' UN campaign #weforshe has been pushing to educate cloistered girls and women, in order to help them liberate themselves. Whereas education had been seen as a necessary process in order to establish oneself in a career, it is still seen as a basic right and the key to independence.
Typographia Conservatrix: Recent material culture, most notably smartphones, are important in modern communication which has extended beyond enabling two way conversations. Smartphones are a necessary tool of connection and knowledge because they enable the use of apps, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where anyone who has access to such websites can have an account. This enables the possessor of a smartphone to be in communication with all contacts at once, and extending beyond that make contacts with new people.
Sprezzatura: There is a certain uncultured attitude which is striven for in digital culture. When most of a person's identity is gleaned from how they display themselves on social media, there are unspoken rules about how a person can express themselves in a socially acceptable way. By speaking to a computer, essentially a non-responsive communication partner, people are speaking simultaneously to all people and to themselves. This duality creates an identity that is idealistic and carefully maintained.
|A photo I took a couple weeks ago. |
It was a reflection on my iPod screen;
but you wouldn't know it just
from seeing it.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
2. Brave New Worlds: In a sense, I think this whole digital culture we have now is a New World. I'm taking a Digital Culture class and we're studying Digital Rhetoric by Douglas Eyman. He implies that this digital world is so new, that we don't completely know what to do with it yet and we don't fully know what the consequences are going to be in the long run. With that being said, I think our digital culture and our courage to venture into this new world is brave (especially by those who are not digital natives).
3. What A Piece of Work is Man: Yes, what a piece of work is man as displayed in their Facebook updates and tweets. On one hand I think that we are able to see the goodness in people on a wide-scale through the digital world. The Church is able to spread news and messages of our divine nature to thousands in an instant. People can share good acts of people on their pages with all their friends. This reminds me of a video that I watched on Facebook that my cousin posted about a man who gave a homeless man $100. The man followed the homeless man to see what he would do with the money, only to discover that he went to the store and bought all the other homeless people in the community food. Videos like this show us the goodness of man. Other posts (I'm sure we're all familiar with) are less positive, sprinkled with swear words (probably misspelled, too) and other trashy or unnecessary photos. I think more than ever we're exposed to the wonder that is man.
4. Plough Boys and Bibles: Like the Reformation, I think there is an increase in self-awareness and the ability to find things out on our own through the internet. It might not always be about religion, but information is now easily accessible to thousands. For example, the Church has answered a number of controversial issues on the website, a place where anyone can find it, read it, and maybe even do more research on their own. The Church welcomes members and non-members to investigate on their own and they are able to do that partly through the internet and its website.
5. Typographia Conservatix: Jacob mentioned that the printing era is dying out and I really hope it doesn't. I still would prefer a hard copy of a book over an ebook. The Church has encouraged its members to bring electronic versions of scriptures and other things to Church which is a different spin on this theme since the printing is electronic now. Which makes it even more wide-spread and even easier to use.
6. Sprezzatura: One thing that I think is still dominant in our digital culture from this theme is having the air of doing difficult things with ease, the court "swag." This shows in our digital world through the types of things people post. We want to post pictures of the interesting things in our life, to show others that we have cool life, to show our fancy activities and fancy clothes, to show that we have an air of "court swag." In our class discussion we talked about how most of our posts, if taken honestly and realistically as a reflection of our lives would be quite average. Yet, through our posts and this digital age we continue to highlight the extraordinary and interesting part of our lives to show that we are adventurous and well-learned like those in the court during the Renaissance.
Monday, September 28, 2015
My current arrangement for the book is three sections:
- Part One: Six Renaissance Themes
- Part Two: Shakespeare's Tempest in Six Themes
- Part Three: Six Lenses on Our Digital Renaissance
In Part One, teams will work together to introduce their assigned theme. This must be based on direct readings of primary texts by the student authors.
Part Two will be a collective reading of Shakespeare's Tempest that uses this play as a way to demonstrate how the six themes are deeply integrated within a well known Renaissance text and therefore really represent Renaissance thought. More on drafting this below.
Part Three will be focused on the present and the changes and opportunities open to our society through a massive change in our media. The Renaissance themes will be used as a way to talk about and critique current digital age culture.
For the moment, I want my students to focus on Part Two.
Interestingly, Stanivukovic views Prospero's humanism as a negative influence in the beginning of the play, pointing out how his secret studies cause him to be "enraptured, transported, and fascinated by one sort of power so that he does not care for, and loses secular power" (96). However, I find the very idea that he would gain the magical powers that he does gain from a secular source as a sign of humanism's victories. Rather than resorting to some kind of angelic or devilish source for his powers, he instead studies the classical authors and ideas that are so prevalent in humanism. This is a demonstration that man can be powerful without the crutch of religion, whether in a positive or negative light. Although Prospero initially loses his kingdom because of his studies, those very studies are what allows him to eventually dominate his island and return to power as a wiser ruler, perhaps indicating that humanism, although new and unaccepted by many, will bring wiser rulers to those nations that embrace it.
This source of power can be traced back to particular humanist scholars and philosophers. Tiffany Grace mentions (in an article critiquing Stanivukovic's article) that the idea of "the relevance to Prospero's powers of Pico della Mirandola's distinction between demonic and natural magic" (71) is a topic long discussed by multiple scholars. Pico della Mirandola suggests that magic is a sort of power that allows humans to determine for themselves their path rather than trusting their lives to the will and might of an all-powerful God. His idea that God should not and does not interfere directly with the lives of men is a very humanist idea, a sort of beginning of Deism.
Although there are multiple points throughout the play that emphasize humanism, I think that the concept of humanism as a source of might rather than religious affinity or God is an especially important point to consider in this context. After all, if Prospero had no magical might, there would have been no Tempest at all.
Stanivukovic, Goran. "The Tempest and the Discontents of Humanism." Philogical Quarterly 85.1 (2006): 91-114.
Tiffany, Grace. "The Tempest and humanism." Shakespeare Newsletter Fall 2008: 71. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
Shakespeare's geographical irregularity extends beyond criticism of the subjugation of the people of the new world but also lends itself to the people of the old world as well. Rather than a criticism of how foreign people are treated, it approaches how different people approach humanist topics - like politics, philosophy, and art (Stanivukovic). Instead of analyzing colonalism as one people subjugating another, The Tempest can be read as the impact of ideosyncratic ideas of humanism from one culture to another.
Humanism finds it's avatar in Prospero's character. He is learned, stubbornly opinonated, and incredibly powerful. He uses these powers over everyone on his island, including the New World natives Caliban and Ariel, as well as members of the Old World. The main subject of the play is not action; although the plot of Caliban, Trinculo, and Stephano provides the play's comedic entertainment, most of the focus of the play is Prospero's humanist arguments.
Both Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, measure their affection by the knowledge they are willing to bestow. In the second scene of the first act, Miranda bitterly recalls that despite the "great pains" she took to "make thee speak, taught thee each hour one thing or other"(1.2.355-358), nothing could leave "any print of goodness"(1.2.354) on Caliban's character. Caliban is considered a monster because of his reception of their humanist knowledge, which he rebels against. A contrast to Caliban would be Ferdinand, who wins the chalice - Miranda - by his acceptance of Prospero's teachings, even to the point where he wishes to stay on the island indefinitely under Prospero's rule.
The major difference between Prospero's humanist ideology which he practiced in his kingdom in the Old World and the way he rules the island of the New World is that he has more power to subjugate an equally unwilling populace, which is perhaps where Shakespeare's loudest criticism of colonialism and cultural imperialism can be heard.
Stanivukovic, Goran. "The Tempest and the Discontents of Humanism." Philogical Quarterly 85.1 (2006): 91-114.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest.
"The idea of 'roles' in Renaissance marriages was clearly defined. There was no question to the fact that fathers, meaning males, should rule (Bell 220)."
I thought this was interesting because it highlights two major ideas of male roles, in The Tempest: a father and just a dominant male in general. Prospero, for example, says that he used to be a Duke, which places high court authority upon him. His dominance is shown over characters like Ariel and his own daughter Miranda. Like Egeus, Prospero wants his daughter Miranda to marry someone that he sees fit to marry her, for financial and political purposes that would most benefit his "court." In the play, Prospero puts Miranda to sleep by simply using magic, which can suggest this absolute fact that a father rules. I also think that because Prospero acts as a Kingly figure in the play, his dominance over female characters represents a prominent aspect of court culture and marriage within the court.
Bell, Rudolph M. How to Do It: Guides to Good Living for Renaissance Italians. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1999
Despite all the wonder and imagination of dominion that the newcomers to this island portray. There is always an idea of home that is apart from the island. Stephano when he meets Caliban even remarks how if they were in London how things would be different.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
One of the courtiers of Elizabeth's court was Phillip Sidney, a contemporary of Walter Raleigh. The Renaissance was a period of flowering romantic poetry, often used to prove the sprezzatura and skill of courtiers. Philip Sidney, a Renaissance poet during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, wrote two very famous romantic poems; New Arcadia and Astrophil and Stella. Astrophil, or “lover of stars” and Stella, whose name is Latin for star, are the names of the two main characters in his later poem. Astrophil vainly attempts to pursue the love of Stella, who is married, chaste, and aloof throughout the work. This is a clear parallel to the position of the courtiers at the time, but furthermore Sidney uses the image of Diana or the moon to demonstrate the frustrated desires of the protagonist and the impossibility of the consummation of his love.
This forbidden love was a common theme during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who was often characterized indirectly as the object of the affections rendered in the poem. Philip Sidney, being a noble in the court as well as a poet used Stella as a representation of Elizabeth, “a virgin queen, who, although of an age to be the young courtier's mother, must in the prevailing pageantry of the day be routinely "courted" as a Petrarchan or Neoplatonic beloved.” Her image was by necessity ever-desirable, but politically and socially unattainable, which is reflected in the mythological imagery.
Elizabeth was shrewd in her continuing to be a virginal monarch, because through this position she was able to manipulate and control most of her European allies. However, as her age caught up to her and more and more the praises to her were hollow, one begins to wonder when the sprezzatura ought to stop. Raleigh wrote a similar poem about The Ocean/Water/Walter and Cynthia/Diana/Elizabeth, alluding to his supposed desire for the Queen despite his secret marriage to Elizabeth Throckmorton. This poem and Sidney's demonstrate how "men in the royal circle were to think of themselves" that is, as dispensers of love and lavishment without any reciprocation.
Msr. Bembo: "I cannot see, when he is well drawn in years, how it will stand well with him to be a lover, considering, as it hath been said the other night, love frameth not with old men, and the tricks that in young men be gallantless, courtesy, and preciseness so acceptable to women, in them are mere follies and fondess to be laughed at, and purchase him that them hatred of women and mocks of others"(Hoby 1).
Countess Nikkita: "Oh Bembo, how you do go on about being old."
Msr. Bembo: "But I am the more capable of lov-"
Countess Nikkita: "Do you hear that? I think that's someone calling me? Terribly sorry, I must go."
Oh Bembo (Or Hoby) what interesting points you make. But he does illucidate the more complicated ideas behind the practices of Renaissance court life. Selecting which mask to hide your face in public that also communicates your intents and status in society, how to court someone, which clothes to wear, how to laugh and dress and keeping up with fashion sounds completely maddening, but I want to focus on the masks in public.
Whenever members of society went places that required a mask (ie parks) they did so almost exclusively to be seen and to observe. To glean and create gossip. What was the point of the mask then? Easy parallels can be made to the modern tech renaissance, with the presentation of the self over social media. There is a right way and a wrong way to take off the mask, and although it would be difficult to explain exactly how that is done, it's something that succesful users of social media inherently know.
I'm also including a link from the Toast which shows how women had to politely deal with the Bembo's of the Renaissance world:
Hoby, Thomas. The Courtier. Women Dropping Polite Hints in Western Art History