————————————— A Journal of the Early Modern Vol. XVI – 2017 The Early Modern Studies Program University of King’s College
B A B E L
This edition of Babel is dedicated to the memory of our teacher, Angus Johnston.
Published 2017 The Early Modern Studies Society University of King’s College K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia
All of the work and scholarship at King’s and the preparations that go into Babel take place on unceded Mi’kmaq territory. The Peace and Friendship Treaties struck in the Early Modern period between the Mi’kmaq and British Nations are unique in that they grant uninhibited use of land resources to First Nations, rather than outlining a surrender of land. Canada continues to violate the spirit—peace and friendship—and the letter—resource use for the Mi’kmaq Nation—of these treaties. We are all treaty people. Editor-in-Chief: Sam Gleave Riemann Assistant Editors: Beatrice Glickman, Keenan Livingstone, Charlotte Scromeda, Hannah Sparwasser Soroka, Katy Weatherly Illustrations: Evangeline Freeman
Printed in K’jipuktuk (Halifax), Nova Scotia by etc. Press Ltd.
The essays in Babel treat topics that hitherto have not found a prominent place in traditional academic discourse. Consequently, some of them contain discussions and images of genocide, sexual trauma, and violence. Please note that there is a specific advisory at the beginning of each relevant essay. Our hope is that readers have the opportunity to interact with Babel on their own terms, because we believe it is important to address socially relevant issues.
We would like to extend all of our warmest thanks to the faculty of the Early Modern Studies Program
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS 7
Foreword: For Angus Johnston
“Why must I call her woman?”: Female Solidarity and Class Conflict in Wollstonecraft’s Maria Charlotte Scromeda
Hungry, Hungry Hypocrites: Investigating European Medicinal Cannibalism Hannah Sparwasser Soroka
Queen Elizabeth I: A Ruling Powerhouse of the Masculine and Feminine Lillian Barraclough
Renaissance Pornography: The Voyeur’s Penetrating Gaze Maya Watson
Dance and the Paragone Katy Weatherly
Fairy Spots and Pleasant Places: Women Loving Women in Mary Delany’s Work Evangeline Freeman
Can Chastity Be Sexy?: Renaissance Female Writers' Perspectives Verity Thomson
“The most beautiful things in the imagination”: Exploring the Erotic in Early Modern Plurality of Worlds Fiction Sam Gleave Riemann
The Locus of Sin: Contesting Lee’s Critique of Malebranche’s NNC Alex Bryant
A Kantian Analysis of Sexualized Violence in Voltaire’s Candide Beth Hawco
Afterword: On the Body Politick
7 Foreword: For Angus Johnston Itâ€™s easy to forget that we are working, living, and writing in an academic tradition that precedes us. The canon is often difficult to grapple with. Figuring out how to interact with this long, complicated tradition can often be grueling. This issue of Babel is in many ways an atypical journal, highlighting queerness, women, cannibalism, and other conceptions of the body. But it also follows in a tradition of writing that we must acknowledge comes from the scholars before us. We would like to dedicate this issue of Babel to the late and wonderful Angus Johnston, as a sign of gratitude for helping set us down this path. Although none of us were at Kingâ€™s when Angus was teaching full time, we were lucky enough to catch a few lectures of his. Angus formed FYP into what it is today in its early years, and helped to design the New Academic Building, where we still work and learn. He lived and taught with passion and kindness. That passion and kindness has touched many of our professors, and it touches us too. Someday it will be our job to take that passion and kindness to a whole new generation of academics. With love, Evangeline Freedman President, 2016-17
8 “Why must I call her woman?” Female Solidarity and Class Conflict in Wollstonecraft’s Maria Charlotte Scromeda This essay contains includes discussion of class, domestic, and sexualized violence. In the final fragment of her unfinished novel, The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria, Mary Wollstonecraft presents a brief vision of female unification in the midst of an oppressive, misogynistic society. Jemima, a bastard and former prostitute of the lowest class, saves the middle-class Maria and her missing daughter; Maria vows to “live for [her] child” along with Jemima who, “reconcile[d] with the human race,” has become the child’s “second mother.”1 Thus united by motherhood and the universal “oppressed state of women,” Maria and Jemima embody an ideal of revolutionary female relationships that transcend class barriers. 2 The majority of the novel, however, confounds this idyllic vision: Wollstonecraft exhibits at length the class disparities and antagonisms that continuously divide rich and poor women, despite their similarities and need for solidarity. In this essay, I argue that Wollstonecraft both advocates for and complicates an ideal of female unification by emphasizing the resentment and material differences between female characters of different social classes. By considering first the similarities and disparities that both prompt and problematize inter-class female relationships, and then the class conflict that disrupts attempts at friendship, I examine Wollstonecraft’s problematic vision of female solidarity. In a letter to a friend regarding The Wrongs of Woman, Wollstonecraft writes that she aims “to show the wrongs of different classes of women, equally oppressive, though, from the difference of education, necessarily various.”3 However, parallels between middle- and working-class female characters—particularly Maria and Jemima—demonstrate that these wrongs are not so “various,” but rather, common to all women to different degrees. Wollstonecraft demonstrates the similarities between the oppression of women of different classes while admitting that working-class women bear the largest weight of female oppression—such as prostitution, lack of education and work, and legal oppression. Like many other early middle-class feminist authors, Wollstonecraft, “depend[s] upon the model of the working woman” to develop feminist agendas, in order to demonstrate the lack of education and employment for
Mary Wollstonecraft, The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria, in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria, ed. Anne K. Mellor and Noelle Chao (New York: Pearson Education, 2007), 357, 346, 290. 2 Ibid., 290. 3 Ibid., 249. 1
9 all women, regardless of class. 4 Both Maria and Jemima receive education only by chance; Maria’s “countenance please[s]” her uncle, who becomes her informal “instructor,” whereas Jemima overhears her master’s philosophical debates.5 The latter even notes that her extreme subordinate position allows her to receive a better education than many higher-class women, since, “[h]aving lost the privileged respect of [her] sex, […] [she] had the advantage of hearing discussions, from which, in the common course of life, women are excluded.”6 Jemima’s remarks are apt, given that Maria’s less favoured sisters do not appear to have any education until Maria herself is married and can “[prevail] on [her] uncle […] to place them in a school near town.”7 Moreover, once educated, Maria’s sisters have few more employment opportunities than Jemima. Maria writes of the “trouble [she has] to place them in the situation of governesses, the only one in which even a welleducated woman […] can struggle for a subsistence.”8 Jemima similarly remarks that while “a man with half [her] industry, and […] abilities, could have procured a decent livelihood,” she, “who had acquired a taste for the rational,” must become a washerwoman.9 Both teaching and washing prove hazardous, as one of Maria’s sisters, “[growing] melancholy,” dies as a governess, and Jemima receives a “serious wound” from a fallen tub, resulting in hospitalisation.10 Other women, poorer than Maria but wealthier than Jemima, also struggle to find sustainable employment: the widowed Peggy sets up shop only with Maria’s assistance and quickly runs into misfortune, while Maria’s temporary landlord “[is] buffeted about” and “almost starve[s] [herself]” until able to “let out lodgings.”11 Wollstonecraft’s argument is clear: women of all classes fail to receive adequate education to find safe, wellpaying employment, and all face death as a result. However, Wollstonecraft also suggests that middle-class women’s inability to find work stems partially from “false pride.” Maria, in recounting her sister’s death, notes that the latter “[shrinks] at the name of milliner or mantua-maker as degrading to a gentlewoman” and thus chose to be a lonely governess instead of succeeding in a lower-class profession and finding “dignity in any station.”12 In this brief aside, Wollstonecraft reveals a class of work below teaching but above “domestic service and prostitution,” which Caroline Pari, “Heroines and Whores: Transgressive Women in British Feminist Novels, 1790-1814” (PhD thesis, City University of New York, 1997), 217. 5 Wollstonecraft, Maria, 296, 295, 282. 6 Ibid., 282. 7 Ibid., 308. 8 Ibid., 311. 9 Ibid., 286. 10 Ibid., 311, 287. 11 Ibid., 299-300, 337, 336. 12 Ibid., 311, 312. 4
10 “were not appropriate positions for genteel women.”13 While millinery and mantua-making both had little “job security” and were associated by the public with prostitution, they still ranked higher than “slaving as a seamstress,” one of the three occupations for young, working-class women, and which, like domestic service, was usually “merely a pathway to illicit forms of work.” 14 Other careers available to educated middle-class women but not to their working-class counterparts included “physician, midwifery, […] business, […] printing, […] needlework designs, engraving, landscaping, and even acting on stage.”15 Thus, Wollstonecraft’s comparison between the job opportunities of different-classed women comes with an addendum: middle-class women may indeed be “classed in the lowest” for choosing to work below their stations in employment linked to prostitution, but workingclass women’s options, in which prostitution was literally inevitable, were considerably fewer.16 Wollstonecraft, like other contemporary feminist authors, particularly focuses female solidarity between prostituted women, especially to “[symbolize] the paucity of opportunities for women’s employment and education” as well as the “licensed prostitution” of middle-class marriage.17 Maria, in recounting how a servant seduced and later married her father, explains that “by allowing women but one way of rising in the world, the fostering the libertinism of men, society makes monsters of them”: Women, denied access to most employment, were obliged to sell themselves, legally or illegally. 18 Thus, just as Jemima, thrown out of employment, resorts to prostitution and later, to becoming the “mistress” of a “worn-out votary of voluptuousness,” Maria’s uncle also sells Maria in marriage to George Venables for “five thousand pounds,” because she has no other opportunities in her “irksome situation” at home.19 Similarly, Maria’s husband covertly attempts to sell her sexual favours to his friend, Mr. S—, in return for a loan. 20 Both women are objectified: Jemima, as a prostitute, becomes “a common property,” and Maria “as much [Mr. Venable’s] property as his horse.”21 Both loathe the sexual favours expected of them, disgusted at their partner’s “grossness of Pari, “Heroines and Whores,” 203. Pari, “Heroines and Whores,” 203. Chloe Wigston Smith, Women, Work, and Clothes in the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013), 145. See Smith for a general discussion of the reputation of various forms of work. 15 Pari, “Heroines and Whores,” 199. 16 Wollstonecraft, Maria, 312. 17 Vivien Jones, “Placing Jemima: women writers of the 1790s and the eighteenth-century prostitution narrative,” Women’s Writing 4, no. 2 (2007): 206. Pari, “Heroines and Whores,” 204. 18 Wollstonecraft, Maria, 304. 19 Ibid., 280, 281, 305, 304. 20 Ibid., 323. 21 Ibid., 280, 320. 13 14
11 sensuality” and “sluggish spirits.”22 Neither woman, despite class differences, is able to sustain large amounts of money—”watchmen […] exhort a tithe of prostitution” from Jemima and Maria’s husband “may use any means to get at what the law considers as his, the moment his wife is in possession of it.”23 In setting up similar narratives, however, Wollstonecraft also highlights the differences between their situations. While Maria’s marriage is certainly comparable to prostitution, Jemima’s story shows that “for workingclass women, prostitution was a reality,” not an analogy or threat.24 While Jemima faces homelessness and rape as a prostitute, Maria “retire[s] to another apartment” to avoid marital sex and is wealthy enough plan comfortable travels to England even after her husband squanders most of her uncle’s money.25 Thus, while Wollstonecraft shows how both middle- and working-class women must trade their own bodies, she clarifies that the degree of the hardship depends largely on class. Similarly, while Wollstonecraft demonstrates at length that England’s legal system fails middle-class women, she equally reveals that working-class women lack even the most basic protections and have no means of escaping corrupt law. The failings of legal rights for women culminate in Maria’s trial, in which a judge dismisses her motives for divorcing Mr. Venables— including her imprisonment, his adultery, and his theft of her inheritance—as feminine “feelings.”26 Maria’s sole legal grounds for separation is in the case of “physical cruelty,” which Mr. Venables strategically avoids, “determined not to give [her] any reason for saying that he used violence.”27 However, working-class women appear to lack even this basic protection: in addition to “rob[bing] the till” every night, Johnny, a landlady’s husband, “beat[s] her if she chance[s] to offend him,” and another woman’s husband “follow[s] [her]” and “kick[s] up such a riot when he was drunk.”28 At no point does either of these women seek legal aid. Jemima’s story, in which she describes how watchmen hunt, rape, and extort homeless women, justifies these workingclass women’s aversion to law enforcement. 29 Conversely, although Mr. Venables’s attorneys also “[hunt] [Maria] like a felon,” her wealth delays her capture significantly.30 Maria is able to “pay an exorbitant price” to hire lodgings anonymously, to bribe a landlady to find new apartments, and to Ibid., 282, 310. Ibid., 281, 320-1. 24 Pari, “Heroines and Whores,” 203. 25 Wollstonecraft, Maria, 280-1, 309, 341. 26 Ibid., 354. 27 Anne K. Mellor and Noelle Chao, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria (New York: Pearson Education, 2007), 324 (footnote). Wollstonecraft, Maria, 327. 28 Wollstonecraft, Maria, 331, 337. 29 Ibid., 281. 30 Ibid., 333. 22 23
12 satisfy his attorneys. She even forces Johnny not to “inform Mr. Venables” solely because “he respected a lady, though not a woman.”31 Because of her status, Mr. Venables succeeds only in apprehending Maria through duplicitous means, and not through the law. 32 Wollstonecraft thus shows that middle- and upper-class women, while suffering through an unjust legal system, may expect some protection through the law, their status, and their wealth, whereas working-class women, according to Wollstonecraft, have no recourse at all in the legal system. In demonstrating how women of different classes experience similar oppression to different extents, Wollstonecraft disproves her own claims that Maria discloses the equal, but varied. Instead, she shows that while middleand working-class women may find similarities in their experiences of education, employment, prostitution, and legal persecution, there remains a chasm in the degrees to which these women suffer from misogyny. Through the women’s lives depicted in Maria, Wollstonecraft justifies one workingclass woman’s claims that, although Maria’s “sorrow is sorrow” with which she can “commiserat[e],” a “gentlefolk,” no matter how persecuted for her gender, never needs to worry about her next meal. 33 By exploring both the commonalities and the fundamental gap between rich and poor women, Wollstonecraft both indicates the need for and the potential difficulty of female unity based on similar oppression: while women such as Maria and Jemima might find “corresponding sympathy” in their shared female oppression, jealousy of and blindness to middle-class privilege sows the seeds of class antagonism.34 Given Wollstonecraft’s insistence of the inequality between middleand working-class women, it is no wonder that conflict inter-class female conflict permeates The Wrongs of Woman, overshadowing brief instances of female solidarity. In portraying how middle- and working-class women resent and harm each other, both intentionally and unintentionally. Wollstonecraft shows both the desperate need for female harmony and its near-impossibility. Suspicion between women of different classes is present from the novel’s first pages, in which Jemima and Maria initially meet. Jemima condescendingly dismisses Maria’s refusal to eat, immediately identifying her as another delirious upper-class lady and patiently explaining that “[she has] had many ladies under my care, who have resolved to starve themselves; but, soon or late, they gave up their intent, as they recovered their senses.”35 Maria’s response, on the other hand, “invoke[es] her class privilege and thus her supposedly superior sensibility” by “impl[ying] that her jailer could not
Ibid., 332. Ibid., 333, 335, 341, 342. 33 Ibid., 337, 336. 34 Ibid., 252. 35 Ibid., 251. 31 32
13 know true grief.”36 While Maria later demands Jemima that “[c]ome to [her] often,” it is only because she “[feels] convinced that [Jemima] ha[s] an understanding above the common standard,” an observation that reveals as much about Maria’s disdain for the “common” as it does about Jemima’s appearance.37 Wollstonecraft also reveals that “[h]ad [Jemima’s] master trusted her, it is probable that neither pity nor curiosity would have made her swerve from the straight line of her interest”; Jemima only listens to Maria’s tale because she has been “offended” even more by another member of a higher class.38 Without Maria’s supposition that Jemima is “superior to class” because of her “form and features” and Jemima’s resentment towards the madhouse’s owner, their friendship would have remained impossible, as would have Maria’s escape from her prison and Jemima’s redemption. 39 By showing how a crucial relationship between working- and middle-class women is semi-accidental, Wollstonecraft demonstrates the difficulty in breaking down the powerful prejudices between the rich and poor women. As Jemima and Maria reveal their lives, they also expose the extent to which class struggle disrupts potential female relationships, and the cause of their initial distrust. In Jemima’s “account of herself,” the large majority of her suffering are the direct result of higher-class women. Jemima loses “the grand support of life—a mother’s affection”—at her own birth when the “virtuous mistress” for whom her mother worked as a house-maid “forced her to take refuge in the very pangs of labour” and “denied every comfort required by her situation.”40 Jemima notes that the mistress’s classist disdain for the “poor wretch” extends particularly to women, since her father, a “fellow-servant” of her mother, is “allowed to remain in his place,” “after a slight reproof.”41 Another woman stains Jemima’s childhood: her stepmother, who, though “another fellow-servant,” “obtain[s] a sum of a rich relation” in order “to keep a shop” and rise above her station.42 This woman, obviously classing herself above Jemima, treats her stepchild like a “slave,” “fed and dressed” worse than her half-sister, and forced to act as a servant.43 Later, Jemima’s physically abusive “task-mistress” throws her onto the street for being the victim of her husband’s assault; she stresses Jemima’s lower class by declaring her “a wretch, whom she had taken into her house out of pure charity.”44 Jemima continues to suffer abuse from upper- and middle-class Roxanne Eberle, Chastity and Transgression in Women’s Writing, 1792-1897: Interrupting the Harlots Progress (Houndmills: PALGRAVE, 2002): 37. 37 Wollstonecraft, Maria, 251, 252. 38 Ibid., 252. 39 Ibid. 40 Ibid., 277, 274. 41 Ibid., 273, 274. 42 Ibid., 275. 43 Ibid., 275, 276, 275. 44 Ibid., 279. 36
14 women: a “mistress [who] often [flew] into violent fits of passion”; the woman who refuses to give her a “character” for the care of her father-in-law; and the hospital’s “lady-like matron” who only “condescend[s] to look on the patients […] two or three times a week.”45 Jemima finds no solidarity with wealthier women, eventually “consider[ing] the rich and poor as natural enemies;” she bitterly laments sharing womanhood with her oppressors, asking of one female abuser, “why must I call her woman?”46 Wollstonecraft thus demonstrates how class antagonisms between women in particular prevent female solidarity, exhibiting upper- and middle-class women who relieve their anger, especially against men, on the poorest working-class women. While Maria’s autobiography contains fewer instances of inter-class female cruelty, it also shows how middle-class women, often blind to their privilege and prejudices, may accidentally harm working-class women.47 Unlike the middle- and upper-class women of Jemima’s tale, Maria actively assists empoverished: in her childhood, she works for her old nurse, repeatedly furnishes the widowed Peggy’s cottage, re-cloth[es] the poor children of [her] care,” and “teach[es] [a girl] to work and read;” as an adult, she sustains Mr. Venables’s illegitimate child and “assist[s] [a woman] to furnish a little haberdasher’s shop.”48 Maria’s actions hint at the possibility of inter-class female solidarity; however, her disregard of her own privilege and biases problematizes this solidarity. Maria recognises herself among the poor: in helping Peggy, for instance, “identifies with her house-maid as one who understands distress and feels responsible for alleviating it,” while “distanc[ing] her own identity from the ‘rich’ who are usually insensible to the sufferings of others.”49 Nevertheless, Maria’s ability to assist the poor stems directly from her class—as does her classism, which she reveals in characterising her stepmother, “an artful kind of upper servant.”50 Rather than focussing on the “illegitimate authority” of her father’s mistress, she describes her own visible “contempt” at the working-class woman’s “bad English” and attempts to “assum[e] the new character of a fine lady.”51 It appears that Maria is quite fine with assisting servants so long as they know their place. Similarly, although she provides for the Mr. Venables’s mistress’s daughter, she scorns the prostitutes who bear the “brutal nature” of his sexuality, at length describing them as “wantons of the lowest class” and
Ibid., 281, 283, 287. Ibid., 288, 283. 47 Ibid., 288. 48 Ibid., 298, 299, 300, 301, 313, 331. 49 Pari, “Heroines and Whores,” 219. The incident discussed in the passage is on Wollstonecraft, Maria, 300. 50 Wollstonecraft, Maria, 303. 51 Ibid., 304. 45 46
15 “profligate women.”52 In doing so, Maria echoes many contemporary middleclass writers who at once pitied seduced women and condemned prostitutes—a view that Wollstonecraft critiques both in Maria and in Vindication. 53 While Maria certainly shows commendable charity towards working-class women, her middle-class biases and lack of accountability complicate true solidarity. At other points, these same classist attitudes result in tangible harm for her dependents. Wollstonecraft planned, but did not write an episode involving “Molly, poor Peggy’s daughter,” whom Maria brings to London; she is, presumably, the “poor girl, whom, intending to serve, [Maria leads] to ruin” and the subject of the undisclosed “discovery [she] ma[kes] respecting Peggy.”54 While it is impossible to know Wollstonecraft’s full intentions, it appears that Maria’s naïve charity is misdirected, causing even more harm to a long-suffering family. Later, when Maria is hiding from her husband, she stays with the haberdasher she once financed, a decision that endangers and eventually leads to physical harm for her landlady. The woman’s physically abusive husband, Johnny, forces Maria from the apartment upon reading the punishment for harbouring her; the submissive landlady has no choice but to obey her husband. 55 While Maria characterises the landlady’s actions as “sacrific[ing]” her own benefactor, it is the working-class woman who has to face Johnny’s “pent-up choler” from his interactions with Maria, and the couple together who might be “menaced with the utmost severity of the law.”56 Furthermore, given that Maria’s “relationship with Johnny’s wife is primarily an economic one, rather than a friendship,” the middle-class woman “has no right to expect deeper loyalty than the market can bear”—she cannot demand that a woman of a “different socio-economic” status further endanger herself simply because of their shared sex.57 Maria’s reliance on the landlady encapsulates the middle-class female naivety that directly harms working-class women and that, along with the class violence present in Jemima’s life, fuels resentment between differently classed women and obstructs true female solidarity. While The Wrongs of Woman concludes with an idyllic “community of women” that “stands as a testimony to the need for alternative bonds” between middle- and working-class women,58 the novel itself disrupts this Ibid., 309, 310. Jones, “Placing Jemima,” 204, 201-2. “Placing Jemima,” as a whole, explores how the character of Jemima and some of Wollstonecraft’s other writing call for justice, rather than charity, for prostitutes, disrupting common prostitution narratives. 54 Wollstonecraft, Maria, 307, 302, 313. 55 Ibid., 332. 56 Ibid., 333, 332. 57 Eberle, Chastity and Transgression, 39. 58 Jones, “Placing Jemima,” 215. Eberle, Chastity and Transgression, 39. 52 53
16 fantasy. Wollstonecraft demonstrates at length that while women of different classes share in female oppression and desperately require female solidarity, prejudiced and privileged middle-class women justify the distrust of their working-class counterparts in their maltreatment of lower-class women. Thus, while this early feminist writerâ€™s unfinished novel makes powerful claims about revolutionary female friendship, it also underscores how class struggle, too, is an unfinished work.
17 Bibliography Eberle, Roxanne. Chastity and Transgression in Women’s Writing, 1792-1897: Interrupting the Harlots Progress. Houndmills: PALGRAVE, 2002. Jones, Vivien. “Placing Jemima: women writers of the 1790s and the eighteenth-century prostitution narrative,” Women’s Writing 4, no. 2, 201-220. Pari, Caroline. “Heroines and Whores: Transgressive Women in British Feminist Novels, 1790-1814.” PhD thesis, City University of New York, 1997. Smith, Chloe Wigston. Women, Work, and Clothes in the Eighteenth-Century Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013. Wollstonecraft, Mary. The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria. In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria, edited by Anne K. Mellor and Noelle Chao. New York: Pearson Education, 2007.
18 Hungry, Hungry Hypocrites Investigating European Medicinal Cannibalism Hannah Sparwasser Soroka This essay contains includes discussion of colonial violence and cannibalism. Europeans have always told stories about people who eat people, from Odysseus’ encounters with laestrygonian flesh-eaters to our childhood fairy tales—for instance, Hansel and Gretel—to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. But what about nonfictional European cannibals? Richard Stephen Charneck investigates this question—and not without significant discomfort—in his paper to the Anthropological Society of London and was a member of the Cannibal Club, a dining club associated with the Society that was so fascinated by the taboo of cannibalism that they took as their symbol a racialized head gnawing on a thigh bone. In his paper, he relates historical and apocryphal reports of cannibalism, relying on sources like St. Jerome, Boethius, and Voltaire.59 Charnock treats cannibals with contempt as he considers cannibalism to be a kind of mania that can be passed down genetically and is only stopped when the cannibal and their descendants are dead.60 Charnock makes cannibalism a question of civilisation and nature: only those incapable of civilisation would do something as unnatural as consuming human flesh—which is why so many of the stories he relates centre on cannibals living in caves and which may be why so many cannibal stories feature incest. Charnock’s narrative is clear: Europe was once home to cannibals—aberrations who dwelt on the margins of society or predated society entirely—but is no longer corrupted due to the redeeming powers of civilisation, particularly Christianity. This is a deeply ironic account given that, less than 200 years before this paper was given, many of Europe’s most elevated citizens were avid practitioners and advocates of medicinal cannibalism, and considered this practice both natural and civilized. But why were European cannibal practices considered natural and curative while cannibalism in the “New World” was deemed unnatural and used as a justification for colonial expansion? Scholars of Early Modern cannibalism have proposed a variety of possibilities for reconciling or explaining this apparent hypocrisy. Unfortunately, however, their suggestions are more convenient than compelling, and lead me to conclude that the European attitude towards cannibalism in the Americas is a socially useful hypocrisy instead of a true distinction derived from the Early Modern understanding of nature. According to Louise Noble, medicinal cannibalism arose out of Richard Stephen Charnock, “Cannibalism in Europe,” Journal of the Anthropological Society of London, Vol. 4 (1866): xxiv-xxvii. 60 Ibid., xxvii-xxviii. 59
19 Classical movements in medicine, particularly Hippocratic medicine and pollutant theory—wherein pollutants such as menstrual blood and the blood of those who died violently, for instance, had healing powers ascribed to them.61 However, Noble and other researches of medicinal cannibalism, such as Karen Gordon-Grube and Richard Sugg, situate medicinal cannibalism particularly within Paracelsian medicine, a type of medicine that follows the Neoplatonic view of the cosmos presented by Parcelsus.62 He divides world into three realms: the terrestrial, the celestial, and the supra-celestial. The goal of medicine, for Paracelsians, is to cure disease by attracting down higher, curative spirits. Paracelsianism is often presented in opposition to Galenic or humouric medicine, which considers matter, and the patient’s proximity to it, to be curative, while Paracelsians use proximity to matter only as a means of attracting the distant curative spirits. Another key difference is that Galenic physicians cure by opposites—to cure a hot disease, you need something cold—whereas Paracelsians cure “like with like”—so, for a disease of the blood, what better cure than blood? 63 It is not difficult to see how Paracelsian medicine came to involve human bodies. 64 In 16th- and early 17th-century England, Galenic medicine was the dominant theory. Paracelsianism was considered dangerous and possibly supernatural as it was associated first with the occult and then, later, with Puritanism, which was not only distrusted as religion but also as a political movement. While the rest of Europe had long ago acknowledged Paracelsianism as a valid theory, English Paracelsians struggled to have their remedies accepted. Gradually, however, Paracelsian remedies were embraced by even Galenic physicians: in 1618, the English College of Physicians included a recipe for mummy and some uses for human blood in their Pharmacopeia Londonensis.65 These recipes were included due to their perceived effectiveness, even as the more occult and spiritual elements of Paracelsianism were rejected by the College. This kind of compromise helped make medicinal cannibalism popular to followers of Paracelsus and Galen alike by the mid-17th-century.66 In 1653, Andreas Tentzel’s book on mummy was translated from German into English and is the first book entirely devoted to medicinal cannibalism to appear in the English language. Tentzel’s
Louise Christine Noble, “‘And Make Two Pasties of Your Shameful Heads’: Medicinal Cannibalism and Healing the Body Politic in ‘Titus Andronicus,’” ELH 70, no. 3 (2003): 682. 62 Karen Gordon-Grube, “Evidence of Medicinal Cannibalism in Puritan New England: “‘Mummy’ and Related Remedies in Edward Taylor's ‘Dispensatory,’” Early American Literature 28, no. 3 (1993): 186. 63 Ibid. 64 Ibid. 65 Ibid. 66 Ibid. 61
20 book is also notable because of its commitment to Paracelsian mysticism.67 It seems logical to distinguish between two types of medicinal cannibalism: medicines made from living bodies and medicines made from dead bodies. The former kind of medicine included the use of hair, nails, menstrual blood, saliva, urine, and placenta—the last of which is still sometimes eaten today for its alleged medicinal benefits.68 These things remedied all manner of injuries and illnesses including lack of hair growth, animal bites, gout, and so forth.69 However, there is remarkably little distinction between the kinds of things cured by living bodies and those cured by dead bodies. For instance, epilepsy, according to Edward Taylor, a Paracelsian physician who lived from 1642-1729, could be cured by both “menstruall blood” and “mans skull.”70 Skulls were a big part of the medicinal cannibalisation of dead people. They were used in powder form or were kept until a so-called “moss”—really a kind of mould—grew over them. The moss was then used in medicine.71 The blood of recently executed criminals was also used, allegedly often consumed while still warm.72 In fact, most of the corpse recipes used the bodies of executed criminals. 73 The most popular corpse remedy, however, was mummy or mummia. Originally, mummified bodies from Egypt and other parts of the Middle East were excavated and carried back to Europe where they were often ground into a dust which could be consumed in a solution.74 As it became increasingly difficult to procure “authentic” mummies, physicians developed their own methods of making mummies. The best-known recipe, which was created by Oswald Croll, goes as follows according to Louise Noble: Chuse the Carcase of a red Man (because in them the blood is more sincere, and gentle and therefore more excellent) whole (not maimed) clear without blemishes, of the age of twenty four years, that hath been Hanged, Broke upon a Wheel, or Thrust-through, having been for one day and night exposed to the open Air, in a Richard Sugg, Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires, (London and New York: Routledge, 2011), 43. 68 Gordon-Grube, “Evidence,” 192-193. 69 Ibid. 70 Edward Taylor, “Taylor, Edward: Dispensatory,” (Ms. Beinecke Rare Book Library, Yale U Library, New Haven): 375-7, 337-78, cited in Gordon-Grube, “Evidence,” 192, 194. 71 Ibid., 196. 72 Maria Dolan, “The Gruesome History of Eating Corpses as Medicine,” smithsonianmag.com, May 6, 2012, accessed February 3, 2017, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-gruesome-history-of-eatingcorpses-as-medicine-82360284/. 73 Gordon-Grube, “Evidence,” 194. 74 Dolan, “Gruesome History.” 67
21 serene time. This Mumy (that is, Musculous flesh, of the Thighs, Breasts, Armes, and other parts) […] will be like Flesh hardned in Smoak, and be without stink.75 Croll’s recipe also appears in the books of Johannes Schroeder, Edward Taylor, and other pharmacopeia, particularly in England after 1670.76 The reproduced and passed-down nature of these texts reveals the utility of mummy for 17th-century physicians as well as the high demand and necessity to produce more of the substance. What I have discussed so far is the fact of medicinal cannibalism in Early Modern Europe. This fact seems impossible given our received narratives of Early Modern life: European culture in the Early Modern period seems to us to be anathema to the acceptance of cannibalism, given Europeans’ citation of cannibalism in the “New World” as a pretext for acting on their colonial ambitions. Just as Charnock seems to in the mid 19 thcentury, Early Modern Europeans framed cannibalism as a question of civilisation. In 1666, César de Rochefort’s History of the Caribby Islands appeared in English and reported that South America was home to barbarous cannibals who brutally cut apart and ate living humans. In his book, Rochefort also alleges that breastfeeding women applied human blood to their nipples to feed their children a mixture of human blood and breastmilk.77 Richard Sugg also notes Thomas Heyrick’s 1691 Miscellany Poems, which includes mention of Amazonian cannibals who eat their victims alive and paint themselves in the blood.78 The message in these sources seems to be that anybody who engages in cannibalism is to be feared and hated, and that these cannibals are in dire need of the civilizing forces of Europe. Given this revulsion and censure, it seems unbelievable that, at the very same time, the human body was commonly consumed in Europe and even in the “New World”—Edward Taylor was a physician in New England. Scholars struggle to reconcile European condemnations of cannibalism with the widespread European practice of consuming human bodies. There are several possible ways to reconcile this hypocrisy, of which I would to highlight three, none of which is particularly compelling. The first draws from the Parcelsian notion that matter is neither important nor curative, matter is useful only to attract curative spirits—what the matter is is less important than what the matter in question does. Therefore, eating human flesh and bone to entice curative spirits is completely alright while eating humans for a different non-spiritual purpose is not. This feeds into the second possible way of reconciling the European hypocrisy: that the Oswald Croll, Bazilica Chymica and Praxis Chymiatricae or Royal and Practical Chymistry, trans. John Hartman (London, 1670): 156, cited in Noble, “Shameful Heads,” 677. 76 Sugg, Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires, 42. 77 Ibid., 133. 78 Ibid. 75
22 important thing is why one engages in cannibalism rather than whether one engages in cannibalism. Cannibalism for the sake of nourishment, religious ceremony, and personal enjoyment is objectionable while cannibalism to preserve the body is acceptable. Charnock seems to display a similar sentiment when he compares forgivable cannibalism in life-or-death scenarios such as shipwrecks to unforgivable cannibalism-by-choice. The third possibility I would like to highlight draws the following distinction between cooked cannibalism and raw cannibalism: cooked cannibalism is acceptable because the cooking process transforms human flesh into something that can be eaten and represents an intermediate cultural step between the raw flesh and the finished product. Not one of these possibilities is ultimately very compelling. There is insufficient justification for the claim that it is possible to distinguish between “types” of cannibalism in such a way that European cannibalism can be accepted while “New World” cannibalism is rejected. The notion that matter itself is not at all curative is derived directly from Paracelsian theories about sympathetic attraction. Karen Gordon-Grube invokes this argument when explaining why a Puritan such as Edward Taylor could denounce the Catholic belief in transubstantiation while personally engaging in literal cannibalism. According to many scholars, Paracelsian Puritans considered their consumption of human bodies as a way of attracting the desired spirits, whereas Catholic communion was viewed as eating a body for no reason. The fact that the body in question was Christ only exacerbated the Puritan stance that Catholics were barbarous. 79 Gordon-Grube’s argument can be projected onto any instance where the Paracelsian belief in sympathetic attraction is contrasted with a group that eats human bodies as human bodies, and not as attractive material. This argument fails for two reasons. First, it does not recognize the similarity between Paracelsians eating bodies for spiritual healing and Catholics taking communion for spiritual salvation, which is potentially also a kind of healing. Second, the argument cannot account for the spread of Paracelsian remedies to Galenic medical communities; if eating human bodies is acceptable only to attract curative spirits, then, surely, non-Paracelsian medicinal cannibals ought to be condemned. The fact of their non-condemnation means that consuming human bodies for material rather than spiritual reasons is acceptable, although only if the cannibal in question is European. This first explanation relates directly to the second justification of the European attitude towards “New World” cannibalism. It may be that Early Modern Europeans believed that cannibalism was acceptable only when performed under certain auspices. Cannibalism as a personal and community lifestyle, religious ritual, or celebration of victory in war is worthy of condemnation while cannibalism to preserve the human body was acceptable. This is a problematic argument because it assumes that there are self-evident distinctions between cannibalism for preservation of the body, and 79
Gordon-Grube, “Evidence,” 185.
23 cannibalism for any other reason. It suggests that cannibalism for physical preservation is obviously more valid than cannibalism for, say, spiritual preservation, when this is not obvious at all. It is particularly hypocritical in light of the widespread belief in the immortality and importance of the soul in Early Modern Europe. This idea also fails upon examination of European attitudes to starvation cannibalism. Richard Sugg and Richard Stephen Charnock both present numerous examples of people who were executed for engaging in cannibalism in situations where to do otherwise would have probably meant starvation. Sugg discusses a 1573 case of a starving family whose matriarch was executed for encouraging the rest of the family to eat her young granddaughter after the girl died of natural causes.80 Charnock relates stories of retreating soldiers eating their own dead companions out of desperation and medieval peasants turning to cannibalism for survival in sieges and famines.81 The people’s plight is treated with sympathy, but, ultimately, there is always the fear that a person who eats another human out of necessity may develop a taste for human flesh. Medicinal cannibals are not subject to that paranoia and revulsion, suggesting that the argument that medicinal cannibalism is to be understood as a necessary and, therefore, justifiable for of cannibalism collapses. Richard Sugg suggests and then refutes a third possible point of reconciliation in his book Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires. He argues that the distinction between raw and cooked is paramount when considering European cannibalism and “New World” cannibalisms. The preparation and transformation of raw flesh and bone into a cooked (or distilled, dried, ground, etc.) product removes the object from its nature and transforms it into a cultural product.82 Therefore, by following the steps Oswald Croll described in 1609, the human body is transformed into medicine. 83 Sugg indicates that proponents of this particular argument consider the act of cooking to be the intervention of culture: it is necessary to eat, it is not necessary to cook what we eat or make it into powders and pastes and infusions. Sugg writes, “culture puts a distance between us and nature.”84 Sugg quickly dismisses this on the grounds that to support this sort of argumentation is to deny that “New World” cannibals had culture, which is patently untrue. Cannibalism itself is a cultural practice, as it “is clearly, emphatically unnecessary from a practical, animal, merely nutritional viewpoint.”85 Moreover, many “New World” cannibals practised cooked cannibalism, as well as ritualized and culturally significant cannibalism.86 The Sugg, Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires, 132. Charnock, “Cannibalism in Europe,” xxviii. 82 Sugg, Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires, 131. 83 Ibid., 42. 84 Ibid., 131. 85 Ibid. 86 Ibid., 132. 80 81
24 modern distinction between raw and cooked appears to fall along the same lines as the Early Modern distinction between savage and civilized, and arguments stemming from this distinction can be collapsed into justification for colonial exploitation and abuse. Essentially, there is no real way to reconcile the European practice of cannibalism to the European condemnation of â€œNew Worldâ€? cannibalism. It seems that the only way to explain the hypocrisy is as just that: a socially useful hypocrisy implemented and perpetuated by Europeans to justify their exploitative colonial ambitions. Still, the medical history of cannibalism in Europe remains fascinating. It is valuable to investigate it both to understand the historical and philosophical journey medicine has taken and to critically consider the questions of what it means to be civilized or to have a particular culture.
25 Bibliography Bethge, Philip. “Europe's 'Medicinal Cannibalism': The Healing Power of Death - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International.” SPIEGEL ONLINE. January 30, 2009. Accessed February 3, 2017. http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/europe-s-medicinalcannibalism-the-healing-power-of-death-a-604548.html. Charnock, Richard Stephen. “Cannibalism in Europe.” Journal of the Anthropological Society of London 4 (1866): xxii-xxi. Croll, Oswald. Bazilica Chymica and Praxis Chymiatricae or Royal and Practical Chymistry. Translated by John Hartman. London, 1670. Cited in Louise Christine Noble. “‘And Make Two Pasties of Your Shameful Heads’: Medicinal Cannibalism and Healing the Body Politic in ‘Titus Andronicus.’” ELH 70, no. 3 (2003): 677-708. Dolan, Maria. “The Gruesome History of Eating Corpses as Medicine.” smithsonianmag.com. May 6, 2012. Accessed February 3, 2017. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-gruesome-history-ofeating-corpses-as-medicine-82360284/. Donne, John. “Love's Alchemy.” John Donne: Love's Alchemy. Accessed February 3, 2017. http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/donne/alchemy.php. Goldstein, David B. “Reviewed Work: Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture by Louise Christine Noble.” Renaissance Quarterly 65, no. 1 (2012): 223-25. Gordon-Grube, Karen. “Anthropophagy in Post-Renaissance Europe: The Tradition of Medicinal Cannibalism.” American Anthropologist 90, no. 2 (1988): 405-09. —. “Evidence of Medicinal Cannibalism in Puritan New England: ‘Mummy’ and Related Remedies in Edward Taylor's ‘Dispensatory.’” Early American Literature 28, no. 3 (1993): 185-221. Montaigne, Michel de. “On Cannibals.” In The Complete Essays of Montaigne. Translated by Donald M. Frame. Stanford, California: Stanford, 1958. Noble, Louise Christine. “‘And Make Two Pasties of Your Shameful Heads’: Medicinal Cannibalism and Healing the Body Politic in ‘Titus Andronicus.’” ELH 70, no. 3 (2003): 677-708. Rochefort, César. “Of the Treatment which the Caribbians make their Prisoners of War.” In History of the Caribby Islands. Translated by John Davies. London: Thomas Dring and John Starkey, 1666. Schroeder, Johannes. Pharmacopoeia medico-chymica sive thesaurus pharmacologicus. Lugduni Bat., 1656. Google Books. Accessed February 3, 2017. Shakespeare, William. Othello, The Moore of Venice. MIT. Accessed February 3, 2017. http://shakespeare.mit.edu/othello/full.html. Sugg, Richard. Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires. London and New York: Routledge, 2011.
26 Taylor, Edward. “Taylor, Edward: Dispensatory.” Ms. Beinecke Rare Book Library, Yale U Library, New Haven. Cited in Karen GordonGrube. “Evidence of Medicinal Cannibalism in Puritan New England: “‘Mummy’ and Related Remedies in Edward Taylor's ‘Dispensatory.’” Early American Literature 28, no. 3 (1993). Votava, Jennie M. Review of Murder after Death: Literature and Anatomy in Early Modern England, by Richard Sugg. Renaissance Quarterly 61, no. 2 (2008): 684-86.
27 Queen Elizabeth I A Ruling Powerhouse of the Masculine and Feminine Lillian Barraclough Elizabethan England underwent an immense and difficult transformation, from the rise of Protestantism, the colonisation of “new worlds,” and the emergence of humanism, to the coronation of the controversial female monarch, Queen Elizabeth I. When Elizabeth entered London before her inauguration her councillors and Protestant supporters planned a performance of “Veritas Temporis Filia” that was a “coronation entry […] of transformation and renewal […] expressed through the physical transformation of the city’s landscapes and its monuments.”87 Despite support from Protestants and her privy council, Catholics and Puritans posed immense opposition and raised controversy regarding Elizabeth’s status as a woman, a transformed Protestant, and a thought-to-be illegitimate child of King Henry VIII. These issues caused polarisation in the opinions of Queen Elizabeth’s subjects, inducing tension and warfare throughout England. 88 However, many of Elizabeth’s speeches illustrate her effectiveness in manipulating conflicting views to assert and maintain power. She simultaneously attests to her physical femininity and her inward masculinity to bring her audiences into the fold of her England. Elizabeth unknowingly uses the tactics presented by Niccolò Machiavelli in The Prince by appearing to be both a strong lion, and a cunning fox underneath. By uniting her image as a Queen and position as a King, Elizabeth justifies her state as God’s ruler on Earth. Queen Elizabeth I distinguishes between a ruler’s two bodies: the body politic to govern, and the body personal. She voices this separation of the political and personal bodies to her lords and counsellors before her coronation, as she states: And as I am but one body naturally considered, though by His permissions a body politic to govern, so I shall desire you all, my lords (chiefly you of the nobility, everyone in his degree and power), to be assistant to me, that I with my ruling and you with your service may make a good account to almighty God and leave some comfort
Hester Lees-Jeffries, “Location as Metaphor in Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation Entry (1559): Veritas Temporis Filia,” in The Progresses, Pageants, & Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, ed. Sarah Knight, Elizabeth Goldring, and Jayne Elisabeth Archer (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007), 70. 88 Patrick Collinson, “Pulling the Strings: Religion and Politics in the Progress of 1578,” in The Progresses, Pageants, & Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, ed. Sarah Knight, Elizabeth Goldring, and Jayne Elisabeth Archer (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007), 122. 87
28 to our posterity in earth. 89 Although she notes the distinct separation of the two bodies in her speech, her actions show that the bodies are inseparable, and are most effective when used in conjunction with each other. Since her lords must remain loyal to her, and disband their opinions of whether or not a woman is fit to rule, Elizabeth deems the distinction necessary. The body politic represents Elizabeth’s required masculine front to maintain her omnipotent power, and the body personal represents her feminine attributes that are shunned in the position of King. Elizabeth clarifies that it was God Himself who gave her the position to rule and represent Him, and the body politic to do so, thus providing her with the necessary masculinity. In the same speech where she states that her body personal is separate from body politic, she clearly references that her body personal works with God’s gift of her body politic: “My lords, the law of nature moveth me to sorrow for my sister: the burden that is fallen upon me maketh me amazed.”90 By referring to her connection to God, she discounts both the opinion that her ascension to the throne was by her own doing, and that of the Protestant reformers. Elizabeth effectively deflects the attention of her people from the fact that her ascension to the throne is controversial, to the traditional values of the crown in its connection and responsibilities to God. In this way, she claims that her femininity will not affect her rule because of her cohesion with God, and asserts her right to authority over her councillors and kingdom. Elizabeth appears to not always be in agreement with her councillors in terms of issues like her marriage, or religion. This discrepancy between Elizabeth and her council was purposeful and was noted by fellow nobility throughout England and those involved with the English court. Subjects observed that “it sometimes looked like there were two governments, not one, in mid-Elizabethan England.”91 Elizabeth uses this great difference to satisfy the vastly different perspectives of her subjects. By appearing to have radical ideas with which her counsellors disagreed, those in favour of dramatic change, primarily Protestant reformers, favoured her as a leader. On the other hand, by appointing a conservative council comprised mostly of ancient nobility, she promotes the values of those who resist change. When explaining the placement of certain lords as counsellors she states that: considering that divers of you be of the ancient nobility, having your beginnings and estates of my progenitors, kings of this realm, and thereby ought in honour to have more natural care for maintaining of my estate and this commonwealth; some others have been of long experience in governance […] the rest of you being upon Elizabeth Tudor, “Queen Elizabeth’s First Speech, Hatfield, November 20, 1558” in Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose (U of Chicago P: Chicago, 2000), 52. 90 Ibid., 51. 91 Collinson, “Pulling the Strings,” 124. 89
29 special trust.92 Elizabeth thus strategically appoints her counsellors so as to serve the varying types of nobility, and uses those of different noble origins to combine the differences into a powerful united front under her leadership. Her privy council of respected men also further masculinized her rule to provided subjects with confidence in her decisions. Elizabeth uses the council to represent her masculine body in collaboration with her body personal to be accepted by society. Elizabeth strategically uses the concerns of her sex and her personal body to further the success of her body politic internationally. Elizabeth remains iconic for her position as the “Virgin Queen,” having never married. Throughout her reign, she continuously received and rejected many proposals of marriage. However, she uses the potential negotiation of marriage contracts to her advantage so as to form relations with foreign monarchies. 93 In using these tactics of contriving negotiation, Elizabeth became the Machiavellian “fox, in order to recognize the traps, and [the] lion, in order to frighten the wolves.”94 Elizabeth does not appear to be turning the proposals of marriage around to manipulate other governments to do her will; however, in giving due consideration to marriage proposals, she became entrusted to collaborate with foreign countries.95 She appeared to be the lion who confidently considered the proposals, while her inner fox used the opportunity to forge connections without any intention of accepting. Elizabeth uses the expectations of her body personal—her feminine attributes—to secure her body politic internationally and in doing so further solidifies her throne in England. In this way, Elizabeth asserts herself as the Virgin Queen, deftly manipulating the commodity of her body personal in regards to marriage and production of an heir to satisfy the remaining concerns of her reign. As Elizabeth states in her address to parliament in regards to the petition that she marry: “I am already bound unto an husband, which is the kingdom of England, and that may suffice you.”96 She illustrates her dedication to the throne of England, and emphasizes that she is both the body politic of her husband and King of England, and her body personal simultaneously, linking her masculine and feminine aspects. Her refusal to marry was considered unnatural, given women’s subordination to men, and unsafe in terms of Tudor, “Speech, Hatfield,” 52. Krista Kesselring, “The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Right of Princes: Elizabeth I,” (lecture, FYP, Halifax, NS, November 25, 2016). 94 Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. and ed. Peter Bondanella (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005), 60. 95 Kesselring, “Elizabeth I.” 96 Elizabeth Tudor, “Queen Elizabeth’s First Speech Before Parliament, February 10, 1559” in Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose (U of Chicago P: Chicago, 2000), 59. 92 93
30 securing the throne for the Tudor bloodline. 97 However, by asserting that she is married to the kingdom of England, Elizabeth draws on the respected stance of Catholic nuns in their marriage to the Church, and the sacred respect of the Virgin Mary to appeal to Catholic subjects. Collinson suggests that Elizabeth’s subjects accepted that she would remain a Virgin Queen during speeches in the performances called masques in which Elizabeth participated across England: “[w]hen it comes to marriage, the speeches imply, Elizabeth herself is in charge.”98 Elizabeth appeals to those who oppose her religious views by recalling tradition of nuns being married to the church, and she molds the societal expectation of women being subordinate in their marriages to portray her dedication to her throne that strengths her kingdom. Elizabeth manipulates the messages of her speeches in many other ways, excluding marriage, depending on her audience. She uses her vulnerability and weaknesses as a woman, her educational background, and her religious stance in her speeches to garner respect and support. When Elizabeth gives her speech to the troops at the Armada she claims that while she has “the body but of a weak and feeble woman, [she has] the heart and stomach of a king and of a king of England too.”99 Elizabeth recognizes the traditional view of womanly bodies and understands her troops will not believe her to be as strong as them, but at the same time rallies her troops behind her in her proclamation of her masculinity. In this instance, she unites the image of the strong and fierce lion that resides in her heart and her weak female body for a clear message of leadership and power. Elizabeth thus portrays a stance of authority and leadership to rally her troops. Through her successful efforts to maintain a functioning army, she is known by many subjects for keeping peace throughout England. As Collinson claims about the messages of masques acted during her progresses: “they were responsive to the current anxieties of the central government […] repeated the speech most desired—that is, peace—by praising Elizabeth as a ‘Prince by whom our peace is kept.’”100 Elizabeth was given the title of Prince, a generally male gendered term, as she was able to transmit her union of her kingly heart and female body to bring about peace. She deftly switches, however, to emphasizing her lack of education and comprehension, rather than her physical weakness, when the audience Kesselring, “Elizabeth I.” Collinson, “Pulling the Strings,” 120. 99 Elizabeth Tudor, “Queen Elizabeth’s Armada Speech to the Troops at Tilbury, August 9, 1588” in Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose (U of Chicago P: Chicago, 2000), 326. 100 C. E. McGee, “Mysteries, Musters, and Masque: The Import(s) of Elizabethan Civic Entertainments,” in The Progresses, Pageants, & Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, ed. Sarah Knight, Elizabeth Goldring, and Jayne Elisabeth Archer (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007), 117. 97 98
31 calls for it. When Elizabeth made her speeches to the heads of universities like Oxford University and Cambridge University she begins by denouncing the credibility of her speech: “feminine modesty, most faithful subjects and celebrated university, prohibits the delivery of a rude and uncultivated speech in such a gathering of learned men.”101 In her speech, she proceeds to voice, in Latin, a sophisticated and insightful message regarding the importance and worth of education. She finishes her discourse to Cambridge University by declaring, in the vernacular: “I would to God you had all drunk this night of the river of Lethe, that you might forget all.”102 Elizabeth insists on her stupidity because she is a woman so that the learned men would listen to her. She made them believe that she was open to the council of those more intelligent than her, which gained their trust and helped her remain in her strong position. She presents both her masculinity in the learned, insightful, Latin speech, and her femininity in her words devaluing her speech. Elizabeth varied her tactics in rhetoric based on who she was trying to reach by sometimes overtly stating her strength, and other times implying it through insightful words of wisdom. In the controversial era of change of Elizabethan England, Queen Elizabeth I was faced with immense opposition, disrespect, and tension. She worked within the constraints of societal expectations and views of women, religion, and educational standards both in the military and university. Elizabeth brought together contrasting opinions and peoples through her ability to act according to context, creating a stable monarchy in England. She used language to transform expectations of female monarchies, gain and maintain power, and create cohesion in highly disparate groups. Queen Elizabeth I consolidated her feminine body personal and her masculine body politic to gain trust and respect from colleagues and subjects and fully assume the role of God on earth. In this way, she took important steps towards female empowerment in the Renaissance, in a visible and impactful way, changing the monarchy’s landscape by being the first successful long term reigning female despite her position as a potentially illegitimate child of King Henry VIII.
Elizabeth Tudor, “Queen Elizabeth’s Latin Oration at Cambridge University, August 7, 1564,” trans. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose, in Elizabeth I: Collected Works, ed. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose (U of Chicago P: Chicago, 2000), 87. 102 Ibid., 89. 101
32 Bibliography Collinson, Patrick. “Pulling the Strings: Religion and Politics in the Progress of 1578.” In The Progresses, Pageants, & Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, edited by Sarah Knight, Elizabeth Goldring, and Jayne Elisabeth Archer, 122-141. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Kesselring, Krista. “The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Right of Princes: Elizabeth I.” Lecture for the Foundation Year Program, Halifax, NS, November 25, 2016. Lees-Jeffries, Hester. “Location as Metaphor in Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation Entry (1559): Veritas Temporis Filia.” In The Progresses, Pageants, & Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, edited by Sarah Knight, Elizabeth Goldring, and Jayne Elisabeth Archer, 69-85. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Prince. Translated and edited by Peter Bondanella. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005. McGee, C. E. “Mysteries, Musters, and Masque: The Import(s) of Elizabethan Civic Entertainments.” In The Progresses, Pageants, & Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I, edited by Sarah Knight, Elizabeth Goldring, and Jayne Elisabeth Archer, 104-121. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007. Tudor, Elizabeth. “Queen Elizabeth’s Armada Speech to the Troops at Tilbury, August 9, 1588.” In Elizabeth I: Collected Works, edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose, 325-6. U of Chicago P: Chicago, 2000. —. “Queen Elizabeth’s First Speech Before Parliament, February 10, 1559.” In Elizabeth I: Collected Works, edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose, 56-60. U of Chicago P: Chicago, 2000. —. “Queen Elizabeth’s First Speech, Hatfield, November 20, 1558.” In Elizabeth I: Collected Works, edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose, 51-2. U of Chicago P: Chicago, 2000. —. “Queen Elizabeth’s Latin Oration at Cambridge University, August 7, 1564.” Translated by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose. In Elizabeth I: Collected Works, edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose, 87-9. U of Chicago P: Chicago, 2000.
33 Renaissance Pornography The Voyeur’s Penetrating Gaze Maya Watson This essay contains includes discussion of pornography. Giulio Romano’s painting, Two Lovers, depicts an elderly woman peeking in on the private embrace of two pornographic youths. Although most Renaissance paintings depicting scenes of love intend to lead the viewer to look through the painting to a lofty divinity, works of pornography strive to draw the eye to the lower carnal acts that are contained within the brushstrokes on the canvas. However, this conscious elimination of the religious element from pornography leads to the latter being defined as taboo. In other words, religion remains present through the fact of its elimination. In Pietro Aretino’s collection of Licentious Sonnets, the first and eleventh sonnets describe this melding of religion and pornography under the scathing eye of a viewer, bringing a private embrace to the public eye. By analyzing Romano’s painting in the context of Aretino’s poems, I will show how the voyeur complicates the separation of religion and pornography in Renaissance painting. Romano allows the divine judgement restricted to religious works to enter his pornographic painting through the eyes of a voyeuristic old woman. This voyeur makes the photo more titillating precisely because of the taboo nature of carnal sex, a taboo that arises from the blurring of the divide between religious paintings and pornography. Aretino employs the elderly woman in “Position Eleven” as a voyeur, allowing the public audience to imagine themselves peeking in on the couple’s private dalliance. By witnessing the couple in a private act, their carnality becomes subject to public opinion. Upon catching sight of the lovers, the woman cries out: “Oh indecent woman! Oh depraved man! On the ground and in bed! I see you, slut, so look out, for I will break your bones.”103 The old woman bases her criticism of the lovers on her ability to see them. From this third perspective, outside of their tight embrace, the woman is able to recognize the carnality of the lover’s act. She damns their act because she sees that their intercourse is not relegated to the bed and thereby it is not strictly procreative. However, these acts would not be taboo had they been committed in secret. Aretino reveals that sexual acts become taboo in their shift from a private embrace into the public eye. By writing a collection of sonnets that illustrate private liaisons for the public imagination, Aretino permeates his entire work with this taboo. In his epilogue, he addresses his readers and writes: “and I know that you have had great pleasure in seeing it fit tight in pussies and asses in a way that couldn’t be
Pietro Aretino, The Licentious Sonnets of Pietro Aretino, trans. Lynne Lawner (Northwestern UP, 1988), 9. 103
34 fucking better.”104 He claims that his audience finds deep pleasure by reading his pornographic text. Crucially, he uses the language of sight to describe the reader’s experience. By writing poems that aim to conjure up sensual images, Aretino reveals how he positions the readers as voyeurs. Aretino’s poems expose private acts of carnality to both the voyeurs within the sonnets and the public outside, allowing readers to derive pleasure from the image they conjure in their minds’ eye. Aretino deepens the taboo pleasure of voyeurism by positing the exemption of religion from pornography as the premise of public censorship of private carnality. In the first sonnet, “Position One”, the male lover complains that the restrictions on sexual activity are due to God; he moans, “it is really true that if the scoundrels had not eaten that traitorous fruit, I know that lovers would be able to content themselves fully.”105 Aretino’s first poem blames the public damnation of sexual excess on religion. By opening his collection with this poem, Aretino shows how this view of religious damnation colours the rest of his sonnets. Aretino shows the depth of pleasure God’s punishment can bring by substituting the ogling old woman for voyeuristic genitals. In the same poem, the young woman responds to her partner’s gripe: “if possible don’t keep your balls outside of my pussy, witnesses of every fucking pleasure.”106 The voyeur, represented by the “balls,” becomes the purveyor of pleasure, allowing for a more intense satisfaction. By making the peak of her pleasure coincide with the insertion of voyeuristic genitals, the young woman makes the witness of God’s punishment a tool in flaunting that decree. The lovers’ pleasure climaxes when penetrated by the sharp gaze of the public’s religious disapproval. Aretino deepens the blurring of religious and pornographic themes by making religious punishment both the grounds for taboo and a sexual tool. Although Romano’s painting is classically pornographic, the voyeuristic old woman adds a religious sheen to the painting. Romano uses light and shadow to emphasize the tension in the young couple’s bodies, positioning them in the moments before embrace. In contrast, the disorder of their sheets points to their past sexual consumption. By clearly defining the contours of their bodies with dark lines, Romano shows their pure physicality in this sensual moment. Their pupils share the darkness of their contoured bodies, revealing that their gazes point no higher than each other. By making the lover’s eyes lock, Romano exposes their obsession with each other and ignorance of the world outside of their bodies. Their parted lips divine a kiss and their splayed limbs anticipate penetration. Under the lush green canopy, which symbolizes fertility, even the furnishings point to their lust: the bedposts are engraved with licentious acts. By positioning the couple in the partially enclosed bedframe, Romano screens their lust from the outside Ibid., 17. Ibid., 1. 106 Ibid. 104 105
35 world, portraying a private moment of carnality. The old woman peers into the arousing scene, letting public judgement sneak through the open door, and intimating the religious indecency of the lover’s lust. Although her physical form is that of the old woman from Aretino’s first poem, this crone resembles the one in the eleventh sonnet more: she sexually satisfies herself even if she does not add to the couple’s pleasure. The dog, which usually represents fidelity, nips at the keys around the old woman’s waist and symbolizes her sexual stimulation (chiavare), which is derived from the taboo nature of the old woman’s gaze. By painting her as a consciously non‑judgmental character, Romano splits from Aretino’s poetry and allows the viewer to enjoy the painting without a direct call for punishment. However, by opening the door, Romano opens the intimate scene to the public, thereby casting a gloss of religious taboo into his painting without clearly incorporating religious visual elements. By having a voyeur witness the two lovers, God’s divine punishment enters the painting through the old woman’s gaze (unconscious to her). The shadow cast by the open door insinuates this religious indecency: without an outside world the couple’s embrace is not subject to judgement. However, once the old woman observes the pair, the light of the outside world illuminates their embrace as indecent. The shadow only darkens the bright room if the door is left ajar. By making the door’s shadow visible only to the painting’s audience, who live in a world of sexuality constrained by religion, Romano suggests the divine obscenity of the scene that the old woman abstains from punishing. Romano invites the viewer to pleasure themselves in the couple’s indecency, just as the woman does, but with the added pleasure of knowing the couple’s actions are damned. By exploring the religious nature of sexual taboo, Aretino’s poetry sheds light on the possibility of divine punishment that is implied in Romano’s painting, which promises to deepen the viewer’s voyeuristic titillation. The old woman in “Position Eleven” condemns the couple by observing their carnal act, showing voyeurism’s damning nature. In this way, she offers an outside perspective on the private. Furthermore, Aretino’s first sonnet exposes the religious nature of voyeuristic punishment and shows the increased pleasure this divine punishment can bring. By observing Romano’s painting in the light of these poems, the viewer sees both the private consummation of lust, enclosed in a lush canopy, and the voyeur’s sexual pleasure in their act. Finally, in his use of shadow and light, Romano invites the viewers to inflict the divine punishment themselves, giving them the combined agency of the old woman and the testicles in Aretino’s poems. By allowing the viewer to imagine themselves as the whips of divine punishment, Romano enhances the viewer’s pleasure in the sexual image. Although this painting does not aim the viewer’s eye through the canvas to a higher contemplation of divine love, Romano uses pornography to draw the viewer into the painting, to partake in the carnal act.
36 Bibliography â€¨ Aretino, Pietro. The Licentious Sonnets of Pietro Aretino. Translated by Lynne Lawner, Northwestern UP, 1988. Romano, Guilio. Two Lovers. c. 1525, oil on panel, transferred to canvas. 163 x 337 cm. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
37 Dance and the Paragone Katy Weatherly In the 18th-century dance-masters wrote dance into a language, in order to establish dance as a liberal art. The liberal arts—which are grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music—were formulated in antiquity and revived as the basis of the standard education of Renaissance noble men. I will look at the dance theorists of the 18th-century, who sought to classify dance as a liberal art, in relation to the art theorists of the 16th-century, who, likewise, sought to classify painting and sculpture as liberal arts. Benedetto Varchi, a Renaissance scholar, uses the paragone, the debate over the greatest art-form, to argue that painting and sculpture are proper liberal arts. To do this, Varchi makes two theoretical moves. First, he uses Aristotle’s moral psychology, in which art is humans using their factive intellect to imitate nature in a manner that leaves behind a trace, like painting or sculpture. Second, he uses Plato’s theory of love, in which beautiful objects, like paintings and sculpture, edify the viewer and draw them to the Good. I will argue that dance theorists, in a manner similar to Varchi, use two theoretical principles to justify dance as a liberal art. They show, in accordance with Aristotle, that dance leaves a permanent trace in the world and, in accordance with Plato, that dance edifies the soul. Dance theorists and art theorists, in establishing their crafts as liberal arts, do, however, develop differing relationships to poetry. Varchi diminishes poetry, while dance theorists seek to both recover and realize ancient poetry within the new media of ballet. While dance theorists do not diminish poetry, they do subjugate peasant dancing in order to establish noble dance as a liberal art. Examining how theorists define particular crafts as liberal arts reveals that “Art” is, in part, a societally-constructed concept, often defined by those in positions of privilege, who are prone to excluding crafts practiced by underprivileged groups. Morris Weitz, in their article “The Role of Theory in Aesthetics,” argues that “Art” does not have a set of defining properties, but is, rather, defined and expanded by “Aestheticians,” which is to say professional critics. Weitz claims that “‘Art,’ itself, is an open concept. New Conditions (cases) have constantly arisen and will undoubtedly constantly arise; new art forms, new movements will emerge, which will demand decisions on the part of those interested, usually professional critics, as to whether the concept should be extended or not.”107 I will apply this line of thought to my examination of dance and art theorists and consider them as “Aestheticians” who, by expanding the definition of the liberal arts, expand the definition of “Art” within their respective societies. I will, in doing this, pay special attention to how the criteria for “Art” is defined and expanded upon by Morris Weitz, “The Role of Theory in Aesthetics,” in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 15, no. 1 (1956): 32. 107
38 educated men working in noble circles, and consider how their position of privilege prioritizes the inclusion of upper-class art, like court dancing, over lower-class art, like peasant dancing. In 1730, English poet Soame Jenyns wrote a two-canto sonnet entitled The Art of Dancing. Near the beginning of the second canto he states: Hence o’er the World this pleasing Art shall spread, And ev’ry Dance in ev’ry Clime be read; By distant Masters shall each Step be seen, Though Mountains rise, and Oceans roar between. Hence with her Sister-Arts shall Dancing claim An equal Right to Universal Fame And Isaac’s Rigadoon shall last as long As Raphael’s Painting, or as Virgil’s Song 108 By comparing dance with Raphael and Virgil, Jenyns asserts that dance is an art equal to and greater than both painting and poetry. While not a dance master himself, Jenyns poem characterizes the attitude of the 18th-century dance masters, seeking to establish dance as a liberal art. Jenyn’s poem is contemporaneous with a movement of dance masters, who, in addition to being choreographers, wrote, published, and disseminated instructional dance manuals. The first of these manuals, Des Ballets anciens et modernes selon les règles du théâtre, was written in 1683 by ClaudeFrançois Ménestrier, a French Jesuit.109 The book was translated into English by the dance master John Weaver and re-titled The Art of Dancing. This translation spurned a flurry of similar publications. Among them is Kellom Tomlinson’s 1724 manual The Art of Dancing Explained and Pierre Rameau’s 1725 manual “The Dancing Master.” Taken together these manuals exemplify the energy and enthusiasm surrounding the emergence of ballet in the early 18th-century. Weaver’s book, The Art of Dancing, documents the motions of the body used by nobles in court dancing. 110 The manual opens with an introduction to the reader and an overview of the resources needed to learn dance. He then documents the basic positions of the body. Weaver presents written names alongside visual notation to demonstrate the positions of the Soame Jenyns, The Art of Dancing (London: W.P., 1729), https://archive.org/details/artdancing00jenygoog, 15-16. 109 Carol Lee, Ballet in Western Culture: A History of Its Origins and Evolution (New York: Routledge, 2002), 80. 110 I will look primarily at Weaver’s dance manual. While there are unique attributes to each dance book, the overall structure of the books I have mentioned is, largely, consistent. Thus, examining the Art of Dancing gives an overview of a typical 18th-century dance manual. I have chosen Weaver’s book as the primary example because he was the most influential dance master of his time; many of the dance manuals that followed him use his structure as an outline. 108
39 body. He then outlines how to put these positions together into basic steps. Here, he uses lines to show the direction in which the dancer’s body should move. Finally, Weaver provides a series of instructions, which explain to the reader how to put the single steps together into a dance. Weaver’s dance manual translates the fleeting movement of dance into a documented visual language. 18th-century dance manuals are not merely instructive, however. Lee Carol notes that Ménestrier sought to recreate the ancient Greek chorus.111 Writing down a language of dance was, for Menestrier, an essential part of recasting ballet as Greek poetry. Likewise, Richard Ralph, the seminal Weaver scholar, observes that Weaver “regarded dancing as one of the liberal arts” and was convinced that “dance could achieve some permanent form through its own language-notation.”112 Dance manuals, in addition to being instructive, are theoretical treatises used by dance theorists to argue for the intellectual importance of dance within 17th-century aesthetic philosophy. Weaver and his contemporaries use dance manuals to self-consciously elevate dance to the status of a liberal art. While Ralph gives an excellent account of how Weaver and others like him sought to cast dance as a liberal art, his scholarship remains within the context of 18th-century dance history. Contextualizing this movement in relation to the paragone serves two purposes. First, both Ménestrier and Weaver were well-educated and voracious readers. Weaver, in particular, understood his work in the context of the Western debate surrounding the liberal arts. To understand Weaver’s work it is important to understand the tradition within which he was self-consciously working. Secondly, dance is left out of the scholarship concerning the paragone. Discussing dance in relation to the paragone challenges scholars to consider why some art forms are prioritized over others and illuminates how such hierarchies come to be. Relating 17thcentury dance manuals to the paragone illuminates the complexity of theorizing an art form into defined existence. The paragone is a debate amongst primarily Florentine scholars and artists interested in asserting a single art form as superlative.113 The three art forms in question within the paragone were poetry, sculpture, and painting. Gail Feigenbaum, in her introduction to the Paragons and Paragone: Van Eyck, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini, notes that the term paragone is taken up by artists and theorists in differing ways. The paragone is not, strictly, a debate about the superiority of a particular art. Art theorists used the Ibid., 80. Richard Ralph, “Restoring Dance to Parnassus: The Scholarly Challenges of Eighteenth-Century Dance.” Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research 1, no. 1 (1983): 23. 113 Rudolf Preimesberger, Paragons and Paragone: Van Eyck, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2011), viii. 111 112
40 paragone to elevate painting and sculpture to the status of liberal art. The paragone is the site of a conscious movement to establish painting and sculpture as liberal arts recognizable to Renaissance noblemen and humanist scholars. Benedetto Varchi, the Florentine humanist, is largely responsible for utilizing the paragone as an opportunity to elevate painting and sculpture to the status of liberal art. Varchi is best known for collecting a series of letters from prominent Renaissance Artists on the topic of the paragone. He is, however, also an art theorist.114 Elizabeth Cropper points out that scholars have avoided Varchi’s theoretical work because of his tendency to be “overly intellectual.”115 Varchi does indeed have a fondness for ancient philosophy; this is, however, no good reason to avoid his work. Like Weaver, Varchi is a scholar of the Western tradition. Both scholars consciously use classical thought to establish a particular craft as a liberal art. Varchi combines Aristotelian psychology, with Plato’s philosophy of love to establish painting and sculpture as liberal arts. Elizabeth Cropper points this out in her review of Paragoni: Benedetto Varchi's “Due lezzioni” and Cinquecento Art,” where she states that “Varchi’s most important contribution is his decisive definition of art as an intellectual virtue, a productive activity governed by the free will of the artist. To this Aristotelian definition Varchi married a performative theory of beauty derived from treatises on love.”116 Varchi classifies painting and sculpture as an activity of the rational soul. 117 Aristotle, in his Ethics, divides the rational soul into the speculative and the practical intellect.118 The speculative intellect is concerned with universals, like science, wisdom, and intelligence, while the practical intellect deals with particulars, like science and prudence.119 The practical intellect is further divided into two parts: science and prudence, which are concerned with the formation, or health of the soul; and the Arts, which are permanent and concerned with the wellbeing of the body. 120 The arts are physical crafts that tangibly aid the body. According to Varchi, painting and sculpture belong to the rational soul’s practical or factive intellect. Varchi uses this Aristotelian classification to justify promoting both painting and sculpture to the status of the liberal arts. Ibid. Elizabeth Cropper, review of Paragoni: Benedetto Varchi's “Due lezzioni” and Cinquecento Art Theory, by Leatrice Mendelsohn, Renaissance Quarterly 36, no. 4 (1983): 598-599. 116 Ibid., 600. 117 François Quiviger, “Benedetto Varchi and the Visual Arts.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 50 (1987): 219. 118 Aristotle, The Ethics of Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics Translated, trans. J. A. K. Thomson (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1953), 177.9-13 119 François Quiviger, “Benedetto Varchi and the Visual Arts,” 223. 120 Ibid. 114 115
41 Varchi, by placing painting and sculpture in the practical intellect, mandates that art must leave a physical trace in the world. He quotes Aristotle and says that “Art is nothing but the form of the artificial thing which exists in the soul of the artist and the factive (or productive) principle of artificial form in matter.”121 In other words, for a craft or practice to be an Art it must leave a physical trace in the world. If art is, as Aristotle suggests, the physical product of a person imitating nature, painting and sculpture are rightly considered arts and not crafts. By placing painting and sculpture in Aristotle's practical intellect, which is responsible for creating permanent imitations of nature, Varchi strengthens his case for defining painting and sculpture as liberal arts. By emphasising Aristotelian psychology, Varchi cements into Western aesthetic theory the notion that the ‘Arts’ proper must leave a physical remnant in the world. The second essential criteria for “Art” established by the theorists of the paragone is that the remnant of art in the world must, in accordance with Plato’s theory of love, edify the soul. Platonic love theory purports that love is an edifying force, which elevates the lover’s moral well-being. The person who sees a beautiful object, like a painting, is drawn by a particular beauty to the form of the Good and the Beautiful. Scholars disagree whether it was Varchi or Fransesco De’Vieri who introduced Platonic Love theory into the debates of the Paragone.122 Either way, the theorists of the paragone popularized the notion that Art in some manner should edify the soul. In short, the conscious effort of Renaissance art theorists to redefine the practical disciplines of painting and sculpture as liberal arts creates two primary criteria for a craft to be considered an “Art” proper. Firstly, in accordance with Aristotle, art must be an act of imagination that leaves a trace of itself in the world. And secondly, in accordance with Plato, the trace of imagination in the world must edify the soul. Weaver and his fellow dance theorists take up these two criteria to argue for the validity of dance as a liberal art. Weaver’s insistence that dance be documented in a written notation, appeases Varchi’s Aristotelian notion that Art must leave a permanent mark in the world. Varchi, in his speeches on visual theory, denies the validity of dance and horseback riding as liberal arts. He does so because both are fleeting and, therefore do not conform to Aristotle’s definition of art, which must, in some way, be permanent. Weaver’s project to document the motions of the body through meticulous notation is an attempt to make dance a permanent art form. 123 The dance manuals of the early 18th-century are written to conform dance to Varchi’s Aristotelian insistence that art must leave a permanent trace. Dance theorists of the 18th-century are also interested in making Ibid., 222. Ibid., 224. 123 Ralph, “Restoring Dance to Parnassus: The Scholarly Challenges of Eighteenth-Century Dance,” 23. 121 122
42 ballet an art which edifies the soul. Sir Thomas Elyot, Knight, in his 1538 publication The Boke named The Governour, argues that court dances edify the nobleman's soul by mimicking the motion of the stars and, thus conforming the body to the Platonic forms.124 The authors of 18th-century dance manuals continue in this tradition. The positions of the body documented are the positions used in noble courts to conform the body to a Platonic ideal. The five ballet positions are a means by which the courtier can increase his nobility. This is made clear in the introductory letters to the manuals. Take, for instance, Kellom Tomlinson’s The Art of Dancing Explained, which is addressed to a noblewoman and lists dance as the highest of attainable virtues.125 The dance masters of the 18th-century, like the theorists of the paragone, claim, in line with Platonic philosophy, that courtly dance edifies the soul and should therefore be accepted amongst noblemen as a liberal art. Dance and the visual arts do, however, develop two distinctly different relationships to poetry. Varchi makes an important distinction between poetry on the one hand, and painting and sculpture on the other.126 Poetry is speculative for Varchi, while painting is imaginative. 127 Varchi uses the distinction to subject poetry to a lower position within the neoAristotelian hierarchy he constructs. Varchi’s elevation of painting and sculpture to the level of the liberal arts comes at the expense of subjecting another art form as something lesser. Dance-masters, on the other hand, consider the ballet the inheritor of Greek poetry.128 Attic tragic poetry was performed to a large audience and incorporated music and dance. The early pantomimes choreographed by Weaver were intentional attempts to revive this mode of poetry.129 Staged ballets combine music, acting, dancing, and tragedy in a mode inaccessible to written poetry. In the words of Jenyns, “Then Poetry was too the Dancer’s Friend, And all the Muses did his Steps attend.”130 Rather than subjecting poetry to elevate dance to the status of a liberal art, dance theorists use the history of poetry to establish ballet as a liberal art. While dance theorists did not prop ballet up against poetry, they did Sir Thomas Elyot, Book of the Governor. Renascence Editions (Wisconsin. Ben Ross Schneider, Jr., Lawrence University, Appleton. University of Oregon. Web. 1998.), XIX-XXV. 125Tomlinson Kellom, The Art of Dancing Explained (1724), http://memory.loc.gov/cgibin/query/r?ammem/musdi:@field(DOCID+@lit(musdi158)). 126 Roland Greene et al., eds., The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2012): 336. 127 Dorigen Caldwell, “The Paragone between Word and Image in Impresa Literature” (Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 63, 2000): 277. 128 Carol. Ballet in Western Culture: A History of Its Origins and Evolution, 80. 129 Ibid. 130 Jenyns, The Art of Dancing, 5. 124
43 set it above country dancing. Jenyns, in the “The Art of Dancing,” sets up dance in opposition to the country dance. He says: To Art our Bodies must obedient prove, If e’er we hope with graceful Ease to move: Nor think, ye Fair, that any native Charm Can e’er our Eyes attract, or Bosoms warm, Unless you learn the Rules there Lines impart, The Useful Precepts of the Dancing Art. First, with French-Dancing be eache Ball begun, Nor Country-Dance intrude till these done131 In other words, Jenyns ranks the dances of the nobility, documented in 18thcentury dance manuals, as superior to country dances. He goes on to belittle those who are unable to perofrm noble dances and says: But if, for want of Genius, Warmth, and Fire, He dares not to such Noble Arts aspire, Let him, contented with an easie pace, The gentle Minnets’ circling Mazes trace.132 Jenyns bars those who are unable to read or to afford dance manuals from participating in noble court dancing. Jenyns, in elevating ballet to a liberal art, diminishes those who only have access to country dancing. Country dances were popular amongst peasants. 133 Such dances marked vital life events, such as weddings and funerals.134 The steps are often simple and rhythmic. Country dances are intended to be easy for large crowds to participate in. The circle dance is the most common form of peasant dancing. It involves a group of people holding hands and whirling about in a circle.135 Dance theorists, in propping up court dancing as a liberal art for noblemen, defined peasant dancing as a lesser art. Much in the way that Varchi propped up painting and sculpture at the expense of dance, horseback riding and, to a lesser degree, poetry, so too does Jenyns prop up ballet, at the expense of peasant dancing. In this way, both Varchi and the 18th-century dance masters act as Weitz’s “Aestheticians”. They expand the definition of “Art” to accommodate emerging artistic practices. While the insertion of dance into the liberal arts is a triumph for a previously underappreciated art form, dance theorists did so at the expense of binding dance to a particular class. The criteria which Weaver sought to fulfill are criteria laid out by well-off and Ibid., 21-23. Ibid. 133 Walter S. Gibson, “Festive Peasants Before Bruegel: Three Case Studies and Their Implications.” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art (31 (4). Stichting voor Nederlandse Kunsthistorische Publicaties): 292–309. 134 Ibid. 135 Peter Paul Rubens, Dance of Italian Villagers, (Cleveland Museum of Art. Reproduced from WikiArt, 1636). 131 132
44 well-educated Florentine scholars. To attain these criteria, dance theorists had to distance themselves from the lower class peasant dances, which are fleeting and not considered to be morally enhancing. Therefore, peasant dances are not recognized as art, by the constructs outlined by Renaissance Art-theorists. That which is recognizable as “Art” is not necessarily given, but, in large part, depends on the societal constructs made available to a person. Examining the movement of dance masters in relation to the history of the paragone, reveals that the construction of noble dance as a liberal art, like the construction of painting as a liberal art, depends on theorists casting one art form over and above another. Dance, during the Renaissance, was not acknowledged by art theorists as “Art.” In gaining recognition from arttheorists, dance was emancipated from the rural dances of the lower class. The deliberate formation of dance as a liberal art serves as a reminder that that which scholarship considers art is in large part dependent on the paradigms and constructions which are handed down by preceding theorists. These structures are more often than not theorized by privileged intellectuals, who work for social elites and are thereby apt to exclude lower-class forms of artistic expression.
45 Bibliography Aristotle. The Ethics of Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics Translated. Translated by J. A. K. Thomson. Baltimore, Maryland: Penguin Books, 1953. Caldwell, Dorigen. “The Paragone between Word and Image in Impresa Literature.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 63 (2000): 277-86. Cropper, Elizabeth. Review of Paragoni: Benedetto Varchi's “Due lezzioni” and Cinquecento Art Theory, by Leatrice Mendelsohn. Renaissance Quarterly 36, no. 4 (1983): 598-601. Elyot, Sir Thomas. Book of the Governor. Renascence Editions. Wisconsin. Ben Ross Schneider, Jr., Lawrence University, Appleton. University of Oregon. Web. 1998. Greene, Roland, Stephen Cushman, Clare Cavanagh, Jahan Ramazani, Paul F. Rouzer, Harris Feinsod, David Marno, and Alexandra Slessarev, eds. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2012. Jenyns, Soame. The Art of Dancing. London, 1729. Accessed January 7, 2017. https://archive.org/details/artdancing00jenygoog. Kellom, Tomlinson. The Art of Dancing Explained, 1724. Accessed January 7, 2017. http://memory.loc.gov/cgibin/query/r?ammem/musdi:@field(DOCID+@lit(musdi158)) Lee, Carol. Ballet in Western Culture: A History of Its Origins and Evolution. New York: Routledge, 2002. Preimesberger, Rudolf. Paragons and Paragone: Van Eyck, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2011. Quiviger, François. “Benedetto Varchi and the Visual Arts.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 50 (1987): 219-24. Ralph, Richard. “Restoring Dance to Parnassus: The Scholarly Challenges of Eighteenth-Century Dance.” Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research 1, no. 1 (1983): 21-29. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1290798. Rameau, Pierre. The Dancing Master. 1725. Accessed January 7, 2017. http://memory.loc.gov/cgibin/query/r?ammem/musdi:@field(DOCID+@lit(musdi143)). Rubens, Peter Paul. Dance of Italian Villagers, 1636. Oil on board, 106 x 73 cm. Cleveland Museum of Art. Weaver, John. The Art of Dancing. London, 1706. Accessed January 7, 2017. http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/weaver/orchesography/. Weitz, Morris. “The Role of Theory in Aesthetics.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 15, no. 1 (1956): 27-35. doi:10.2307/427491.
46 Fairy Spots and Pleasant Places Women Loving Women in Mary Delany’s Work Evangeline Freeman Mary Delany is not a particularly well-known early modern artist, yet her paintings reveal an entirely different sexuality to the tradition of the early modern garden. Delany is best known for her flower collages, a project that did not begin until the last fifteen years of her life. She was also a skilled watercolour artist, and worked to curate and design gardens. Delany’s gardens and flower paintings are rife with a sense of eroticism that lacks the male gaze. Delany, a woman who experienced many intimate and possibly romantic relationships with other women over the course of her life, formed a different tradition of the garden than her male counterparts. For Delany, the garden was a sacred space for love between women to flourish. Following in the Sapphic tradition of the garden as a space of lesbian love, Delany’s life works are delicate reflections on the value of female spaces. Delany’s female friendships were central to her work, as Lisa L. Moore makes explicit in her work Queer Gardens: Mary Delany’s Flowers and Friendships. This essay would not have been possible without Moore’s extensive work into Delany’s queer sexuality and its impact on Delany’s art. I will begin showing Delany’s reflections on queerness and women’s love by suggesting Sappho as a precedent to Delany within the tradition of the garden as an erotic and romantic space for women. Delany certainly at least knew of Sappho, and the two women both find the garden as a space of locus amoenus, or, in English, pleasant place. Sappho provides us with a classical example of the garden as erotic feminine space, and of flowers as yonic and erotic. I will then show that Delany’s flower collages are labeled with Linnaen inscriptions. Linnaeus was Delany’s contemporary, and in his System Sexuale, he eroticizes nature through a scientific lens, assigning human genitalia to pistils and stamens. Linnaeus’ humanisation of plants in the natural world, and their often alternative and polygamous sexualities, opened a space of sexual presentation within the natural world. I will explain how this system of alternative sexualities and genitals within the natural world of plants influences Delany’s homoerotic flower collages. Finally, I will describe the homoeroticism of Delany’s grottos within physical garden spaces, particularly Delany’s own ‘Beggar’s Hut.’ Throughout the work I will reference pertinent points from Delany’s biography that influence interpretations of Delany as a queer woman. The locus amoenus is a literary trope used in both the classical and early modern periods. It refers to a ‘pleasant place’—a mythical landscape where one can be freed from their own mortality and the pains of earthly life. The English garden, the tradition in which Delany was gardening and painting, takes up the concept of the locus amoenus as its French predecessors did not. The French formal garden tended to focus on ordering nature and elements of symmetry. The English garden, however, cultivated and presented an idealized view of nature, which was generally more influenced by classical
47 gardens. The French garden represented dominion over nature, while the English garden represented cultivation and comfort within nature. While the concept of these sprawling gardens for the upper class did not emerge until the 17th century in Europe, Sappho’s poetry is a precursor to the erotic space of the garden existing for love between women. Though Sappho’s work only exists in fragments, her allusions to lesbian love flourishing through flowers and other natural elements that would later become stock features of the English garden cannot be ignored. Additionally, we know Delany was at least familiar with Sappho’s work, as evidenced by her homoerotic nickname for her childhood friend: Later Mrs. Delany would dub Sally Chapone “Sappho,” a name that to our twenty-first century ears, along with the touchstone word “masculine” conjures up an electric atmosphere of intense teenage connection. Their friendship would prove lifelong. 136 Though there is no evidence that the relationship between Delany and Chapone was sexual in nature, their close friendship suggests that Delany may have been familiar with the connotations of such a nickname. Sappho’s erotic lesbian poetry was not merely a precedent to the queer nature of Delany’s work. Delany’s yonic flower paintings were most likely influenced by Sappho’s poetry, which centres the flower in romantic encounters between women. This, along with Delany’s interest in the English garden, suggests a carefully cultivated lesbian aesthetic. Sapphic flowers represent erotic love between women, as they will later come to for Delany. Sappho writes multiple times of women with flowers in their lap, evoking the classical yonic image of the flower in an undeniably sexual region. Though the following poems are extremely fragmented, they suggest this connection between flowers and female sexuality, as in this: “the one with violets in her lap,”137 and in this: “girls / all night long / might sing of the love between you and the bride / with violets in her lap.”138 A longer fragment of Sappho’s, which depicts a parting between Sappho and her lover, is a more explicit reflection on Sappho’s lesbianism and its connection to flowers. I have divided this section into two parts in order to describe two different ways in which this poem connects to Sappho’s precedent for the aesthetics of women’s love, and subsequently, upon Delany’s collages. The first segment is as follows: I want / to remind you / ]and beautiful times we had. / For many crowns of violets / and roses / ]at my side you put on / and many woven garlands / made of flowers / around your soft throat. 139 Molly Peacock, The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delaney Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2010), 55. 137 Sappho, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, trans. Anne Carson (New York: First Vintage Books, 2002), 39. 138 Ibid., 61. 139 Ibid., 185. 136
48 Sappho eroticizes her lover here with the flowers she places upon herself— these crowns and garlands of flowers are memories of their “beautiful times.” Her lover’s “soft throat” is graced with flowers—by naming this tender flesh specifically, Sappho places eroticism on erogenous zones and associates these with the yonic imagery of the flower. Furthermore, this segment is directly erotic: and on a soft bed / delicate / you would let loose your longing / and neither any [ ] nor any / holy place nor / was there from which we were absent / no grove / no dance / no sound. 140 Sappho and her lover recall a time where they were together, and their love here transcends the barrier of the earthly realm. It is Sappho’s specific reference to holiness and groves that is interesting here. Her love has transcended earthly barriers, but remains in the cultivated natural space of the grove. We can infer that Sappho, too, saw the garden as a locus ameonus for queer love. Sappho’s use of specific flowers (the rose and the violet) to represent the vagina most certainly transferred to Delany. Here I will analyze the sexuality of Delany’s China Rose and Gentle Violet. The yonic imagery of these mixed media watercolour and collage pieces is evident in their structure, as Molly Peacock writes in The Paper Garden: They all come out of darkness, intense and vaginal, bright on their black backgrounds as if, had she possessed one, she had shined a flashlight on nine hundred and eighty-five flowers cunts.141 China Rose is one such work. The “China Rose” is not a real rose, but is rather a hibiscus, and its Linnaen name, which Delany writes alongside the colloquial, is Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis. The collage pictures two China Roses amongst their shrubberies, each reaching in a separate direction though on the same plant—one, upwards to the top right of the painting (presumably, towards the sun). The other rose wilts slightly and directs itself to the middle left of the painting. The China Rose is what is known as a hermaphroditic or bisexual plant, which contains both stamens and carpels (male and female organs). Delany here represents her own bisexuality through the wistfulness of these flowers. The top flower, reaching towards the sun in the dark expanse of the black background, reaches for something higher than itself, perhaps representing Delany’s more socially acceptable and Christian attraction to men. Below it, the second China Rose is darker and brighter in colour even as it wilts. If this is Delany’s love for other women, it might be seen as a less public part of her life—but it is still a bright and beautiful flower. Between the two flowers, a bud grows, perhaps indicating a reconciliation of Delany’s two binary attractions, an identity that can grow between her two binary attractions. Gentle Violet presents a sweeter view of Delany’s sensuality. These 140 141
Ibid., 187. Peacock, 8.
49 violets are indeed gentle, perhaps mangled. A few of the leaves appear diseased, one bitten, even, and both of the two violets are missing leaves. There is an air of sentimentality to this work, punctuated by the period that follows the title of the work. The delicacy of these violets is offset by their hardiness—they have been mangled, bitten, and diseased, and yet they keep growing. As we can see two violets, one smaller and just beginning to emerge, we might see this work as similar to Sappho’s poem about leaving her lover. There is pain, but new life and memory is emerging from these delicate flowers. Like Sappho’s flowers for her lover, the image of the violets presents itself as a respite. Another important element to analyze in the yonic sexuality of Delany’s work is her Linnaen inscriptions. Linnaeus was Delany’s contemporary, born only seven years after her, and his biological systems were considered revolutionary within Delany’s botanist community. Linnaeus shocked parts of the scientific community with his sexualizing of plant biology. Although these unions used the heterosexual language of ‘marriage’, they were often polyamorous or bisexual in their sexual reproduction. As Londa Schiebinger writes in Nature’ Body: Though all of Linnaeus’s plants celebrated nuptials, the majority did not engage in lawful marriages. Only one class of plants—Linnaeus’s monadria—practiced monogamy. Plants in other classes joined in marriages consisting of two, three, twenty, or more “husbands” who shared their marriage bed (that is, the petals of the same flower) with one wife.142 (Schiebinger, 25-26) Delany’s Linnaen influences means that it was not only her art that was sexualizing the life of plants, particularly flowers, but that science itself was also sexualized. Though Linnaeus’ metaphor often focuses on plant heterosexuality and ‘marriage’, it still opened a realm of abnormal sexuality in nature into which Delany inserts herself explicitly with her Linnaen inscriptions. Use of Linnaen terms in Delany’s work places the flower paintings in both an abnormally sexual and scientifically botanical context. As Linnaeus’ plants were not only sexual beings, but anthropomorphic, the Early Modern garden becomes populated with polygamous sexualities and homosexuality, making the garden a perfect space for the queer encounters of Delany’s flowers. Delany’s interest in flowers, her taking up of the Sapphic tradition of floral arrangements as signifying women’s love, and her use of Linnaen classifications delineate her paintings as within the queer tradition of the garden. Yet Delany also physically made garden spaces for women’s love. Delany herself wrote of these garden spaces as “fairy spots:” A strong and faithful friendship! that’s the true zest of pleasure, the refinement of life, which mends the heart, and mitigates a thousand Londa Schebinger, Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993), 25-6. 142
50 sorrows. A fairy spot of ground to be enjoyed with a friend is preferable to the whole world without that happiness.143 It is clear that Delany prized her female relationships above all. She built multiple grottos in her lifetime, beginning with what she called the ‘Beggar’s Hut’ in her estate at Delville. This small cave was certainly what Delany would have named as a ‘fairy spot’—one segment from her letters report that Delany and her friends were thrown from the garden into this cave: “whilst we were in the garden a violent storm of thunder, lightning, and hail drove us into the Beggar’s Hut for shelter.”144 Delany and her female friends did physically gather within this grotto and it was a space for Delany and company alone. Delany, who was raised only a few miles away from the infamous Dashwood estate, may have been recreating the eroticism of Francis Dashwood’s “Door of Life.” This garden structure at West Wycombe Park was a grotto, with a yonic opening punctuated by a statue of Venus, placed between two hills supposed to represent open legs. Dashwood’s Hellfire club met here to partake in various acts considered ‘immoral’. This is not to suggest that Delany was part of the Hellfire Club—by all accounts she was not—but rather to suggest that this connection may have inspired Delany’s fascination with the yonic possibilities of the grotto in the garden. Delany’s own grotto has a similar erotic structure to that of Dashwood’s Door of Life. Delany interpreted her structure in a 1745 drawing entitled “View of Beggar’s Hut in Delville Garden.” Beggar’s Hut is situated in the landscape in a similar fashion to Dashwood’s Door of Life. The opening of the cave is situated between two meadows, representing legs. The hut is a divide in the landscape, a secretive and vulva-like place between the open expanses of the meadows. Delany’s queering of the grotto may be further explored through her fascination with shells. In later life, Delany moved to live with the Duchess Margaret Harley, and the two collaborated on another grotto structure, decorated with shells as the grotto was. Moore writes the following: After the widowed Delany moved to Bulstrode, she and the Duchess spent years decorating the grotto with shells and other artworks of mutual gratification. The grotto project was an occasion for furthering the spaces and occasions for their intimacy.145 Literally hidden away from the male gaze, this grotto existed as a space for Delany and Harley alone. The shell, another yonic symbol, crowned this intimate grotto the two women worked on. The shell, a symbol of Aphrodite, held all her associated eroticism with it. That these shells occupied Delany’s private women’s spaces makes it clear that these fairy spots cannot be Lisa Moore, “Queer Gardens: Mary Delany’s Flowers and Friendships,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 39, no. 1 (2005), 52. 144 Delany to Mrs. Dewes, Delville, 12 May, 1752, in Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany: Volume 3, ed. Augusta Hall (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011), 118. 145 Moore, “Queer Gardens,” 61. 143
51 desexualized. In both the interior and exterior spaces within the garden, Delany sought to eroticize the natural world. While this was by no means a new project, as the scientific work of Linnaeus, the poetry of Erasmus Darwin, and many more of Delanyâ€™s contemporaries show, no man eroticizes nature quite like Delany. Working within the queer canon of Sappho, Delany turns her gaze to the space of the garden, the flower, and the seashell, incorporating these elements into her work with a careful hand. With her tender and erotic feminisation and sexuality of natural elements, Delany creates fairy spaces for the viewer to inhabit. Mary Delanyâ€™s garden, rife with flowers, is a space of respite for female friends and lovers to gather and be amongst each other, free from judgment and from the male gaze. The garden, with all its flowers and shells, is Delanyâ€™s pleasant and private place for female friends and lovers.
52 Bibliography Peacock, Molly. The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delaney Begins Her Life’s Work at 72. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2010. Schiebinger, Londa. Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1993. Sappho. If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. Translated by Anne Carson. New York: First Vintage Books, 2002. Delany, Mary. Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany: Volume 3. Edited by Augusta Hall. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011. —. China Rose. 1775. Coloured paper, watercolour, gouache, ink. 26.8 x 18 cm. British Royal Palace. —. Gentle Violet. 1782. Coloured paper, watercolour, gouache, ink. 25.1 x 18 cm. British Royal Palace. Moore, Lisa L. “Queer Gardens: Mary Delany's Flowers and Friendships.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 39, no. 1 (2005): 49-70.
53 Can Chastity Be Sexy? Renaissance Female Writers' Perspectives Verity Thomson The famous Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino said, “‘let woman try […] above all else [to be] chaste. Just as courage befits a man, so does chastity a woman.’”146 Strict societal conventions sought to preserve women’s chastity by restricting their independence. Simultaneously, the rise of humanism “opened the door to a re-evaluation of the nature and capacity of women.”147 Italy fostered many female writers during this time and boasts 200 female writers in the 16th-century, as compared with France which only had about 30 in the same time period.148 Vittoria Colonna and Moderate Fonte are two of these Early Modern Italian female writers. They both affirm the value and importance of women’s chastity, while challenging the societal norms for women that restricted their freedom. Colonna and Fonte deal with the problem of female desire differently: Colonna creates poetry that shows her reformed religious devotion and channels her desire towards God, whereas Fonte, writing after the Catholic Reformation, shows how obedience to a loving master can “harmonize the desires of all.”149 First, this paper will address what was expected of women in Italian Renaissance society in relation to chastity, and the possible conflicts female writers had with these societal expectations. Next, it will demonstrate how these female writers uphold the value of chastity while abandoning many of the behavioural restrictions associated with it. In Renaissance society, promiscuity was sinful consequently, chastity was a key virtue for women. Dilwyn Knox, in his article “Civility, courtesy and women in the Italian Renaissance,” notes, in agreement with other scholars, that chastity was considered “the most important virtue of all in women.”150 The Florentine humanist Matteo Palmieri explains the Marsilio Ficino, Epistolae in Opera omnia (Paris, 1641): 1.722, quoted in Ian Maclean, The Renaissance Notion of Woman: A Study in the Fortunes of Scholasticism and Medical Science in European Intellectual Life (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980), 25. 147 Margaret L. King and Albert Rabil Jr., series editors’ introduction to Floridoro: A Chivalric Romance, by Moderata Fonte, ed. Valeria Finucci, trans. Julia Kisacky (Chicago, U of Chicago, 2007), xx. 148 Virginia Cox, introduction to Women’s Writing in Italy 1400-1650 (Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2008), xiv. 149 Fonte, Moderata, The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men, trans. Virginia Cox (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1997), 56. 150 Delwyn Knox, “Civility, courtesy and women in the Italian Renaissance,” in Women in Italian Renaissance Culture and Society, ed. Letizia Panizza (Oxford: European Humanities Research Centre, 2000), 7. 146
54 importance of chastity in his book Della vita civile: the woman’s greatest and absolute care must be both to refrain from copulating with another man, and to avoid the suspicion of such a repulsive wickedness […] it banishes honour, brings with it uncertainty about offspring, pollutes the family, brings hate and dissolves any connection.”151 Palmieri defines chastity and shows the consequences for the family: a husband will be unsure if his wife’s children are his own. Because it was widely believed that “[women] succumbed more easily to temptations of the flesh,” societal norms allowed for little female independence. A woman was always subordinate to a man, either her father or husband, so they could safeguard her chastity (unless she entered a convent, in which case she pledged a celibate life).152 Maclean explains in The Renaissance Notion of Women that “woman is debarred from speaking (because Eve’s words beguiled Adam), from teaching and from preaching (1 Tim 2:11-12).”153 Maclean points out the biblical basis for their subjection. In the same vein, Knox quotes the Venetian Nicolaus Jenson (1420-1480) who said a young woman should “keep her eyes down at all times […] should speak seldom and, when she did, she should do so slowly, softly, and briefly.”154 Jenson proposes restrictions on women's comportment, as a way of encouraging women to avoid Eve's sinful qualities. Correspondingly, female writers were required to navigate and circumvent social conventions that prohibited their speech and expression. Chastity in the 16th-century required more than just refraining from extramarital sex, it governed all aspects of a woman’s relationship to sexuality; inciting desire in men or expressing desire for them was considered unchaste. Agostino Valiero, Bishop of Verona from 1565 to 1606, explained that a woman “must show her modesty through her behaviour: through her eyes, by keeping them always lowered; through her mouth, by not talking if it is not necessary, through her clothes, by inspiring respect in men, rather than desire.”155 Similarly, another Renaissance author, Bernardo Trotto explains that a woman: should never cross the limits of agreeableness, nor should she touch the boundaries of lasciviousness […] because a lascivious woman, besides giving her husband reasons to be suspicious of her, is held in poor esteem by many […] [she should] be happy as a chaste wife Matteo Palmieri, Libro della vita civile (Venice, 1535): fols 74v-75r, quoted in Mary Rogers and Paola Tinagli, Women in Italy, 1350-1650: Ideals and Realities, a Sourcebook (Manchester: Manchester UP, 2005), 143. 152 King and Rabil, intro. Floridoro, xviii. 153 Maclean, The Renaissance Notion of Woman, 18. 154 Knox in Panizza, Women in Italian Renaissance Culture and Society, 6. 155 Agostino Valiero, Della istruzione del modo di vivere delle donne maritate (Padua, 1744): 21, quoted in Rogers and Tinagli, Women in Italy, 145. 151
55 […] Nothing is worse for a woman than treating her husband in a way which would allure an adulterer.156 Both Trotto and Valiero make clear that maintaining a woman’s chastity means ensuring her behaviour ought not incite desire in men. Contemporary scholars Meg Brown and Kari McBride also explain that “women were less likely than men to feel free to express sexual desire, given their culture’s concern with women’s chastity and the dangers of lust.”157 Thus, the chaste behaviour of women in the Renaissance demanded that they neither incite desire in nor express desire for men. Vittoria Colonna (1490/2-1547) was a wealthy noble woman who lived just before the Catholic Reformation. During her lifetime she was famous for her Petrarchan lyric poets. 158 At the age of thirty-five Colonna was a widow, independently wealthy and a published author 159 which made her extremely independent—an uncommon trait in a Renaissance woman. In addition, she actively challenged her brother and even the Pope, who both wished for her to remarry. Colonna was a dedicated theologian and believed in many reformed doctrines (including the doctrine of Sola Fide) which were later deemed heretical by the Catholic Church.160 Leading Colonna scholar Abigail Brundin highlights her “enthusiastic drive to convert others […] to the cause of individual spiritual renewal,” and describes how Colonna’s “colleagues fervently believed [this] was the objective of all their work.”161 Colonna was unafraid to share her fervent religious zeal, and she educated others (including Michelangelo) about reformed theology. Her independence, outright opposition to the Pope, and theological teaching could have easily ruined her reputation and social standing. It is therefore remarkable that Colonna was able not only to maintain her independence, but to become a respected poet whose “example helped to spawn the huge increase in women writers appearing in Italy in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.”162 She did this by showing her chaste relationship to desire. The poet frequently expresses her struggle to abandon sinful or earthly desire in order to redirect her intimate, devotional affections towards God. Therefore, she could not be seen as either exciting, nor expressing desire for men. Bernardo Trotto, Dialoghi del matrimonio, e vita vedovile (Turin, 1578): 90, quoted in Rogers and Tinagli, Women in Italy, 143. 157 Meg Brown and Kari McBride, Women’s Roles in the Renaissance (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 2005), 284. 158 Abigail Brundin, “Vittoria Colonna,” Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England, ed. Diana Maury Robin, Anne R. Larsen, and Carole Levin (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2007), 87. 159 Ibid., 88. 160 Abigil Brundin, Vittoria Colonna and the Spiritual Poetics of the Italian Reformation (Cambridge: Ashgate, 2008), 48. 161 Ibid. 162 Brundin, “Vittoria Colonna,” 90. 156
56 Brundin notes “her public profile was at all times married to a carefully marketed literary persona embodying all the necessary traits of modesty, chastity, and piety.”163 Thus, Colonna is a nuanced figure who walks the line between heretical spiritual independence and virtuous religious devotion. She managed this tension through her poetry which constantly insists on her desire being turned to God. The Petrarchan sonnet’s well established form and association with desire allowed Colonna to explore revolutionary ideas. In The Development of the Sonnet: An Introduction, Michael Spiller notes that “Petrarch’s lexis signifies a natural world that is also the eternal world of desire—particularly the desire of beauty […]—and gave to European poetry a powerful resource for expression.”164 Petrarchan sonnets are about the sanctification of desire. Petrarch’s Canzoniere tells of his great love and desire for Laura which ultimately becomes a religious conversion. Colonna is able to appropriate the form and take the connotations of redeemed and holy desire which help maintain her chaste persona. Her first set of published poems focus on her longing for her absent and later departed husband. As Brundin explains: through a public insistence on her widow’s role, the female writer’s act of transgression in venturing into the public literary arena is tempered by the implicit control of a male authority, although in this case an altogether defunct.165 Colonna intelligently began her career by insisting on the active role of her husband over her desires (e.g. that all her desire was for him). This secured her chaste image in the face of her independence because she was presenting herself as subordinate to a man. Later, she uses her established chaste image and the “security,” of the sonnet form to move “into entirely new literary territory in her own Petrarchan endeavours,” namely her reformed religious teaching.166 “Poetry and piety have an intimate relationship in this period” and hence the move to religious subject matter would be natural.167 Colonna uses the Petrarchan Sonnet’s form and well defined role to maintain her chastity and show redeemed desire. The redemption of desire is a central theme in Colonna’s poetry. Colonna does not think desire on the whole is wrong. Rather, she distinguishes between the sinful and distracting earthly desire, and holy heavenly desire. She expresses her struggle to be liberated from the former so she can be entirely consumed with the latter: “when you draw together my Ibid., 87. Michael R.G. Spiller, The Development of the Sonnet: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1992), 62. 165 Abigail Brundin, introduction to Vittoria Colonna, Sonnets for Michangelo: A Bilingual Edition, ed. and trans. Abigail Brundin (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005), 2. 166 Ibid., 5. 167 Ibid., 4. 163 164
57 confused thoughts / and break open by force my hardened heart, / and cause my burning desires to be calmed / so that all true longing is channeled up to heaven, / all this is the work of your goodness alone.”168 Colonna is establishing her chaste image by showing her proper relationship to desire: all earthly desires that could threaten her chastity are destroyed and replaced with heavenly desire. In any other context, the mention of her “burning desire” or “longing” would immediately be considered an affront to her chaste image. However, because she is praying for a transfer of her desire up to heaven, her chastity is strengthened by this language. For Colonna, the process of transformation of desire is an ascent of the soul to Christ. Essentially, the union with the divine comes through abandoning earthly desires for heavenly ones. The poet rejoices at the power of God to effect this change saying: “O heavenly Father, with what love, / grace, light, sweetness and in how many ways do you / untie man from the world and his desires, / so that he may turn his heart freely towards you.”169 Similarly, in Sonnet 93 she shares her vision for “every soul liberated from selfish desires / may fly upon wings of love / up to your blessed celestial shore.”170 In her article The Mind’s Pursuit of the Divine: A survey of secular and religious themes in Vittoria Colonna’s Sonnets, Rinaldina Russell calls this line the poem’s “visual climax,” as it shows “a metaphorical image of the soul’s union with God.”171 Russell explains that for Colonna, the ascent “represented the solution to all psychological and mental conflicts, it meant reaching a moment of understanding and peace that only communion with the Divinity could provide.”172 The ascent to Christ, is therefore, very sought-after and for Russell, it is Colonna’s “consistency of pursuit” of the divine which gives her poetry, and her life, meaning. 173 The poet’s links to reformed ideas are also clearly visible as the “imitation of Christ became the main teaching point of those ‘evangelical’ leaders who in Italy advocated a spiritual renewal of Christianity and of the Church.”174 The personal journey of turning towards God and up to Him, in the footsteps of Christ is part of her reformed evangelism. Paradoxically, this ascent requires both a release from desire, but also a deepening of it, so that one may love God more fully. In Sonnet 54, Colonna is inspired by Christ who is “so fused into one / that God becomes
Vittoria Colonna, Sonnets for Michangelo: A Bilingual Edition, ed. and trans. Abigail Brundin (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005), S1: 92, I.10–14. 169 Ibid., S1: 95, I. 1–4. 170 Ibid., S1: 93, I. 16–19. 171 R. Russell, “The Mind’s Pursuit of the Divine. A Survey of Secular and Religious Themes in Vttoria Colonna’s Sonnets,” Forum Italicum: A Journal of Italian Studies 26.1 (1992), 24. 172 Ibid. 173 Ibid. 174 Ibid., 19. 168
58 a true man and man a true God / causes [her] lowly desire to soar so high.”175 Reformers viewed meditation on the divine as a key way to achieve union with Christ.176 By meditating on Christ’s dual nature, Colonna’s desire for God is made greater because of the presence of the divine together with the humanity of Christ. Simultaneously, Colonna makes it clear that desire outside of holy desire cannot be tolerated. In preparing for divine union, the poet “quashed all other desires within [her] heart, / and [she] must burn for his love” (S1:8 l.1-7). Here we see a tension in her work: desire must both be expanded and destroyed as Colonna ascends closer to the divine. The call for an increase in desire could appear unchaste, yet it is clear that hers is a holy desire for God. Vittoria Colonna was an exceptional woman of her time, who broke many of the most crucial societal norms and expectations for women enforced to maintain chastity, by showing her chaste relationship to desire in her poems. However, after the Catholic Reformation, the Catholic Church deems many of Colonna’s principle beliefs heretical, and her poetry quickly falls from popularity. Modesta Pozzo (1555-1592) was a Venetian woman who wrote under the name of Moderata Fonte. She belonged to the upper middle class and published a variety of works before and after her marriage. Fonte lived after the Catholic reformation which tightened moral codes. As Virginia Cox notes in Seen but not Heard, after the counter-reformation “the evidence from conduct books indicates an ever greater concern with controlling and curtailing women’s speech.”177 Consequently, the social climate in Italy did not become more tolerant of female writers after Colonna’s success. Indeed, under the influence of the counter-reformation, their voices were controlled all the more. Writing in this climate, Fonte recognized that her publishing could compromise her chastity, saying: “‘since my own true name I have not judged it well to expose to public censure, being a young marriageable woman and, according to the custom of the city, obligated in many respects.’”178 Her nom de plume was a purposeful choice to conceal herself from public censure. Fonte is a nuanced writer. In her dialogue On the Worth of Women, she systematically overturns the misogynistic status quo, but does not call for a new system. Rather, she calls on men to be more virtuous and more loving husbands: “And yet I'd be prepared to stake that if men were good, no woman would be bad; for, if there are bad women around, it is their husbands
Colonna, Sonnets for Michelangelo, S1: 54, l. 3-5. Russell, “The Mind’s Pursuit of the Divine,” 23. 177 Virginia Cox, “Seen but not heard: the role of women speakers in Cinquecento literary dialogue,” in Women in Italian Renaissance Culture and Society, ed. Letizia Panizza (Oxford: European Humanities Research Centre, 2000), 390. 178 Fonte, Floridoro, 5. 175 176
59 who have made them so.”179 For Fonte, women are the source of all virtue, and virtue is corrupted by men. Moreover, all virtue that men have is a result of the women’s influence in their lives. Chastity is maintained as a key virtue throughout Fonte’s On the Worth of Women. The dialogue takes place in a lush garden in Venice, where the women quickly discover the presence of a series of statues. Of all the virtues and ideas depicted by the statues, chastity is the very first.180 The statues were chosen by the deceased aunt of one of the characters in the dialogue. The aunt is, in a sense, the patron of the whole conversation and is as a role model of greatness and independence. Therefore, the chastity statue demonstrates the great value placed on it by Fonte and hints at its role in female independence. Moreover, Corinna’s sonnet near the beginning of the play also highlights the importance of chastity: The heart that dwells within my breast is free: I serve no one, and belong to no one but myself. Modesty and courtesy are my daily bread; virtue exalts me and chastity adorns me. My soul yields to God alone, turning back toward its creator, even while still enveloped in the mortal veil; it scorns the world and its evil treacheries, that ensnare and ruin more ingenuous souls. Beauty, youth, pleasures, and pomp are nothing to me, except as a trophy to my pure thoughts, offered up of my own free will and not through chance. And thus in my green years, as in the riper ones that await me, since men's deceptions cannot obstruct my path, I may expect fame and glory, in life and death.181 Corinna’s sonnet boldly proclaims her independence, while also asserting her chastity: “chastity adorns me.”182 Central to Fonte's argument is that females are so virtuous that they can and should be independent, and chastity is married to this proclamation of freedom. A woman’s independence is restricted so that she does not excite desire in men, nor should she be in situations where her limited self-discipline would fail her. For Fonte, the proper place for desire is in obedience to a benevolent master. This is demonstrated most clearly when the women are organizing themselves: Corinna stepped in and said, ‘Come now, let us please elect one amongst us to take command of the others—and let the others obey her, for, in truth, in the private as well as the public sphere, obedience is not merely useful but one of the most necessary virtues. And, that way, we shall harmonize the desires of all.183 The virtue of obedience is a key virtue for the author. However, it is only
Fonte, Worth of Women, 30. Ibid., 51. 181 Ibid., 50. 182 Ibid. 183 Ibid., 56. 179 180
60 because the women knew Adrianna to be “a woman of great discernment”184 that obedience to her maintains and cements the perfect peace of the garden. In the family, the virtue of obedience translates into the wife’s obedience to the husband. So Fonte calls on men to be better masters and husbands for the sake of the happiness of all. Near the end of the dialogue, Leonora proclaims to husbands: So hear our plea, dearest friends and inseparable companions […] come be good and loving companions, and show us an example: for if you love us, then we will love you, if you pay us the regard due to a wife, we will pay you that due to a husband—we will even regard you as our masters, not through obligation, but through love […] we pledge in future to be even more loving and submissive to you than ever—submissive, that is, as a free choice, out of love for you, not under compulsion.185 For Fonte, the harm that women endure at the hands of men will ultimately be fixed by kind and loving husbands. Her own life demonstrates this as her apparently loving husband allowed her great independence. He gave her control over her dowry soon after their marriage and also supported her writing. Ultimately, a woman with a loving husband should submit to him, allowing her desires to align with his, resulting in greater happiness for both. Vittoria Colonna and Moderata Fonte present two very different ways of affirming female independence while adhering to societal norms of chastity in the Renaissance. In a reformist vein, Colonna openly displays her struggle to make her desire conform to her religious zeal. While Fonte, writing after the Catholic Reformation, is dealing with a culture that more severely polices women’s independence. She calls for greater recognition of the nobility of women, while affirming traditional structures and insisting that happiness is found in the virtue of obedience. In Renaissance Italy, female independence is fraught, and these two female authors demonstrate how women tried to navigate the societal norms while challenging conventions that inhibited their freedom. Early Modern women are indebted to their carefully crafted influence.
Ibid. Ibid., 191-2.
61 Bibliography Brown, Meg Lota., and Kari Boyd. McBride. Women's Roles in the Renaissance. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 2005. Brundin, Abigail. “Colonna, Vittoria.” Encyclopedia of Women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England. Edited by Diana Maury Robin, Anne R. Larsen, and Carole Levin. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2007. —. Vittoria Colonna and the Spiritual Poetics of the Italian Reformation. Cambridge: Ashgate, 2008. Colonna, Vittoria. Sonnets for Michelangelo: A Bilingual Edition. Edited and translated by Abigail Brundin. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2005. —. Vittoria Colonna: Selections from the Rime Spirituali with Photographs of Josep Maria Subirachs' Passion Facade. Translated by Jan Zwicky. Erin, Ontario: Porcupine's Quill, 2014. Cox, Virginia. “Seen but not heard: the role of women speakers in Cinquecento literary dialogue.” In Women in Italian Renaissance Culture and Society, edited by Letizia Panizza, 384-400. Oxford: European Humanities Research Centre, 2000. —. Women’s Writing in Italy 1400-1650. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2008. Ficino, Marsilio. Epistolae. In Opera omnia. Paris, 1641. Quoted in Ian Maclean, The Renaissance Notion of Woman: A Study in the Fortunes of Scholasticism and Medical Science in European Intellectual Life. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980. Fonte, Moderata. The worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men. Edited and translated by Virginia Cox. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1997. —. Floridoro: A Chivalric Romance. Edited by Valeria Finucci. Translated by Julia Kisacky. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2007. Gibson, Joan. “The Logic of Chastity: Women, Sex, and the History of Philosophy in the Early Modern Period.” Hypatia 21.4 (2006): 1-19. King, Margaret L., and Albert Rabil Jr. Series editors’ introduction to Floridoro: A Chivalric Romance, by Moderata Fonte, xi-xxx. Edited by Valeria Finucci. Translated by Julia Kisacky. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007. Knox, Delwyn. “Civility, courtesy and women in the Italian Renaissance.” In Women in Italian Renaissance Culture and Society, edited by Letizia Panizza, 2-17. Oxford: European Humanities Research Centre, 2000. Maclean, Ian. The Renaissance Notion of Woman: A Study in the Fortunes of Scholasticism and Medical Science in European Intellectual Life. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980. Palmieri, Matteo. Libro della vita civile. Venice: 1535. Quoted in Mary Rogers and Paola Tinagli. Women in Italy, 1350-1650: ideals and realities, a sourcebook. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2005.
62 Russell, R. â€œThe Mind's Pursuit Of The Divine. A Survey Of Secular And Religious Themes In Vittoria Colonna's Sonnets.â€? Forum Italicum: A Journal of Italian Studies 26.1 (1992): 14-27. Spiller, Michael R. G. The Development of the Sonnet: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 1992. Trotto, Bernardo. Dialoghi del matrimonio, e vita vedovile. Turin, 1578. Quoted in Mary Rogers and Paola Tinagli. Women in Italy, 1350-1650: ideals and realities, a sourcebook. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2005. Valiero, Agostino. Della istruzione del modo di vivere delle donne maritate. Padua, 1744. Quoted in Mary Rogers and Paola Tinagli. Women in Italy, 1350-1650: ideals and realities, a sourcebook. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2005.
63 “The most beautiful things in the imagination” Exploring the Erotic in Early Modern Plurality of Worlds Fiction Sam Gleave Riemann This essay contains includes discussion of sexualized violence. With the introduction of sense-enhancing scientific instruments in the 17th-century and the new natural philosophical discoveries that they allowed, there was a body of literary writing produced that responded to these new discoveries. Galileo had shown that the Moon was composed of the same stuff as the Earth and shaped by the same forces; micrographers like Robert Hooke illuminated the beautiful details of the invisibly minute. The world was open to all sorts of new possibilities and writers began to explore the possibility even of other worlds, beyond the moon. This plurality of worlds fiction was grounded in the new natural philosophy, but also took cues from the popular press. There is a pattern of strong erotic undertones in plurality of worlds fiction. Margaret Cavendish’s short story, “The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World” and Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle’s later Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds both include such themes, despite the authors being primarily known in their own time as serious, if somewhat eccentric, philosophers. Through erotic imagery and language, both Fontenelle and Cavendish use their respective frame narratives to unravel the philosophical questions behind their discussions of the plurality of worlds. I mean ‘erotic’ in a broad, Platonic sense. The language that we use to describe sexuality is multiple and diverse, full of euphemism and suggestion, referring as it does to some of our own most potent, most awkward, and most private emotions. Sexual, sensual, beautiful, romantic, desirous: there are multiple shaded synonyms even for the word ‘erotic’ itself and I point them out only to acknowledge that I mean something that includes all those synonyms-but-not-quite when I use the word. The social situation of the erotic in the 17th- and 18th-centuries is not so puritanical as some people now might assume about Early Modernity. However, it is obviously not the same explicit sexual context as that of the 21 st-century. Plato’s Symposium, his dialogue on the erotic, comes into the modern world through Ficino’s commentary and Latin translation. The original work is explicit in centring the bodily experience of erotic love as a legitimate philosophical subject, whereas Ficino willfully reinterprets the text to suggest that Plato is only talking about spiritual love. Cavendish will describe her spiritual love for the Empress of “The Blazing World” as “platonic”186 in a way that Plato would not totally recognize. If we look at the text of the Margaret Cavendish, “The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World” in The Blazing World and Other Writings, ed. Kate Lilley (London: Penguin Books, 1992), 183. 186
64 Symposium, Plato actually argues that the physical experience of love leads to spiritual assent, stating that the philosopher will ascend up through the beauty of her beloved to “give birth, through a boundless love of knowledge, to many beautiful discourses and ideas.”187 He uses the metaphor of human sexual reproduction to describe the philosophical power of sex. In this way, the original, bodily experience of erotic desire for the particulars of one other person is the natural base for philosophy. This ascent is predicated on a lack. We can only want what we do not already have: the beautiful, the good, the wise. Ficino spiritualizes this bodily experience of love and creates the idea of sexless, bodiless Platonic love that was popular in Early Modernity and survives in the popular lexicon even today. We will see how Fontenelle and Cavendish draw both on the spiritual and body-centric readings of Plato’s erotic philosophy. Second to this Platonic view, the social aspects of the erotic are at the forefront of my reading of the erotic passages in Fontenelle and Cavendish. In the opening paragraph of his paper on Fontenelle’s ethical philosophy, Gregory Matthew Adkins points out that there has been a movement among historians of ideas in the last few decades to acknowledge the social origins of knowledge. Adkins understands this movement to be “a necessary corrective to the pure history of ideas.”188 This is an important starting point for a study of 17th- and 18th-century plurality of worlds fiction. Prior scholarship has focused on the role of new metaphysical ideas and new observations in natural philosophy in shaping the genre. However, ideas do not simply spring fully-formed from other ideas. Since ideas do not reproduce sexually, a philosopher cannot just mash a likely breeding pair together until something interesting falls out. With direct reference to Fontenelle and Cavendish, it cannot simply be the case that these two thinkers take the new natural philosophy as their only starting points. There are social and moral questions at play here as well. Their erotic language reflects these influences, primarily, but bleeds over into their treatment of natural philosophy, as well. The most face-value reading of these two texts is basically sociological, but we must move past it. That reading simply follows the way in which Early Modern authors deploy erotic themes and language in plurality of worlds fiction to make their dense, controversial philosophy more palatable. Then, as now, sex sells. The popular literature of the 17 th- and 18th-centuries is full of romance and erotic undertones. Both Fontenelle and Cavendish wrote in this genre. These other works draw upon, reinforce, and cater to the erotic imaginations of their readership. Cavendish’s “The Contract” concerns a young woman “pressed […] to the wars of vanity, in which Cupid is
Plato, The Symposium, trans. Christopher Gill (London: Penguin Books, 2009), 210.d.4-7. 188 Gregory Matthew Adkins, “When Ideas Matter: The Moral Philosophy of Fontenelle,” Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 61, No. 3 (2000), 433. 187
65 general.”189 As an example of contemporary romance literature, erotic imagery abounds throughout the story. The military metaphor illustrates how high the stakes are. Like in “The Blazing World,” the young female protagonist of “The Contract” is usually a passive object of the sexual combat unrolling around her; the narrative worries more about whether or not men are willing to choose her, rather than the other way around. Clearly, this is a social context wherein a woman’s social standing relies on the largesse of the men around her and their largesse is dependent of how attractive they find her. When Fontenelle writes his dialogue 80 years after Cavendish publishes “The Blazing World,” these gendered erotic politics are basically the same. Fontenelle is a man writing for women in this sexist context, whereas Cavendish is woman using her writing to push back against it. Therefore, this simple reading applies more readily to the Conversations than to “The Blazing World,” although both authors essentially admit that their plurality of worlds texts are cloaking themselves in erotic overtones to communicate their ideas more easily. In the preface to the Conversations, Fontenelle says that his philosophy, although it is wonderful in its own right, needs some “exotic trappings”190 to make it as appealing to his female readers as a romance novel. He references Madame de Lafayette’s The Princess de Cleves as an example and holds up how Ovid uses flowery language in his Ars Amatoria—even sex needs to be sexed up some times. Fontenelle is much more willing to use sex to lure readers than Cavendish. He also uses the social aspects of the erotic to clarify his philosophy. Adkins argues that the sociological origins of the Conversations are a moral critique of Descartes’s mind-body division. He roots this part of Fontenelle’s thinking in some other of his writings; clearly, the Conversations is not primarily a work of moral, but of natural, philosophy. However, there are moral considerations here, as well as in the writings that Adkins considers more closely. Fontenelle compares the Marquise to Wisdom in her beauty. The passage in question hearkens back to Plato. He asks rhetorically whether, “if Wisdom wished to present herself successfully to men, she would do well to take a form much like that of the Marquise? […] I assure you that all the world would run after her.”191 Clearly, Fontenelle as author and Fontenelle as the Marquise’s self-insert interlocutor both have an erotic drive behind their philosophical project, much as Plato describes. Indeed, Plato’s whole theory of the erotic is that “Wisdom is one of the most beautiful things, and Love [eros] is love of beauty.”192 About this passage in the Conversations, Adkins states that Fontenelle holds that “humans are governed by their passions, and Margaret Cavendish, “The Contract” in The Blazing World and Other Writings, ed. Kate Lilley (London: Penguin Books, 1992), 12. 190 Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, trans. H. A. Hargreaves (Berkeley: U of California P, 1990), 5. 191 Ibid., 7. 192 Plato, Symposium, 204.b.2-3. 189
66 men would much rather chase after beautiful women than truth itself (Fontenelle had a reputation as a womanizer, so here again he is laughing at himself).”193 The parenthetical note is important. Fontenelle is jocularly acknowledging the social truths of his reputation that underlie this text to draw a clear connection, early on, between author and narrator. Since he seems to have a sense of humour about his reputation, I do not agree totally with Adkins’s reading. Taking after Plato, Fontenelle seems to be just fine with wanting both Wisdom and the Marquise. Erotic desire can have more than one object, but Adkins is right to point out that Fontenelle is cynical about how often that actually happens. His basic reading of Fontenelle’s break from Cartesian metaphysics is fair. For her part, Cavendish says that her constructed Blazing World is “a fiction […] the first part whereof is romancical, the second philosophical, and the third is merely fancy, or […] fantastical.”194 From the beginning, she is euphemistic about the way she uses erotic language. Moreover, she aligns the erotic and the romantic with the philosophical, as Plato does. Later, Cavendish is more explicitly critical of melodramatic romance narratives. When the Empress and Emperor ask the Duchess to establish a theatre in the Blazing World, their final request before the end of the story, Cavendish complains that the theatregoing public of England prefer fantastic, romantic stories devoid of philosophical content. She argues that the theatre serves as “a nursery of whining lovers, and not an academy or school for wise, witty, noble, and well-behaved men.”195 In this passage, looking back over the completed story, Cavendish recognizes that sex and love are morally ambiguous. There is a vague menace of sexual violence behind her appeal to “well-behaved men.” What is the opposite of well-behaved? Moreover, she recognizes that popular literature plays a role in instructing how the erotic plays out in our lives. Clearly, she intends her story and her fantastical world to be an academy, not a nursery. In this way, she is indicating that the erotic elements of “The Blazing World” are more than just window dressing. Within the narrative, Cavendish is also critical of the social politics of the erotic. Like writers of speculative fiction before and after, she uses her imagined world to explore how this world might be made better. To this end, the Empress reforms the sexual politics of her realms, while leaving other parts of their conduct alone. It is worth noting that the Emperor marries the beautiful extraterrestrial within two sentences of laying eyes on her, overcome with desire, and then disappears for most of the narrative, leaving his new Empress the sole and seemingly omnipotent autocrat of his demesne. Soon after she has received her crown, she makes a survey of her new realm’s customs and learns that her subjects bar women from public life and castrate the leading men of church and state to avoid the dangers they see stemming Adkins, “When Ideas Matter,” 444. Cavendish, “The Blazing World,” 124. 195 Ibid., 220. 193 194
67 from erotic desire. Perhaps they are afraid that their Emperor might pass all of his political power to his young, inexperienced wife whom he barely knows? Worse still, they are afraid that lust will pollute their religion. The Empress’s courtiers defend their ban on mixed-gender worship by stating that women’s “company hinders devotion, and makes many, instead of praying to God, direct their devotion to their mistresses.”196 The threat is so potent in the Blazing World psyche that women are not even allowed to have their own separate, segregated congregations, but must pray privately at home. In any case, the Empress puts an end to this practice and joins men and women together in public worship. One can only assume that Cavendish desires gender equality in English religious life, as well. The short courtship between the Empress and Emperor is important because it illustrates how little control over her own narrative she exercises in the early parts of the story. Indeed, she is defined and controlled by the erotic. The only name she is given in the story is Empress; prior to being chosen by a man and his lust, she has very little identity. She is not even described as beautiful at the beginning when she is introduced to the reader, not even allowed that one cliché. Instead, in the opening seen that describes her kidnapping and journey into the Blazing World, Cavendish defines the drama in terms of the abductor’s erotic psychology, as if he is the character who will stay with us through the whole story instead of immediately dying. He is passive victim to “his love growing stronger and stronger upon him.”197 Since boys will be boys, it is not he but his Eros who abducts the girl—still, Cavendish is clear that he is being punished for the abduction when he immediately dies in his escape. It is his Eros that puts the Empress in position to be married, named, and defined by the Emperor. The same erotic desire that carries the Empress into the Blazing World allows her to flit back out of it with her platonic lover. Here we are confronted by Cavendish’s awkward Platonism. The unthinking lust of the Empress’s abduction is the bodily counterpart to her spiritual connection to the Duchess. Cavendish says that “husbands have reason to be jealous of platonic lovers, as being not only very intimate and close, but subtle and insinuating.”198 It is difficult to read a passage like this or Cavendish’s reference to “a spiritual kiss”199 as anything less than deeply erotic. Since Cavendish inserts herself as one of the lovers, I assume that this is the author’s own private fantasy shared in print. However, let us not get bogged down in the salacious details. Cavendish’s appeal to Platonism has philosophical weight. She does not create a new world to play out her fantasies; rather, her fantasy show how she imagines other worlds might be and how our world is. The Empress cannot leave the Blazing World without Ibid., 135. Ibid., 125. 198 Ibid., 181. 199 Ibid. 196 197
68 her platonic lover; her love for the Duchess allows her to literally see other worlds, more worlds than the bear-men’s telescopes can see. Cavendish vindicates and reifies Plato’s theory of philosophical Eros in the context of the new natural philosophy. The relationship between the Marquise and her interlocutor is more flirtatious than explicit. Mary Blaine Campbell uses the phrase “flirtation and fantasy”200 when discussing this text. Those two ideas have a lot in common. Flirtation is a particularly subtle erotic register, the erotic moment that comes before sex. When we flirt, we build a shared fantasy of what might come next and lose ourselves in it, blocking out the rest of the world. Fontenelle turns flirtation into a philosophical practice. Fontenelle keeps circling back to love, peppering the dialogue with reminders of how beautiful the Marquise is. In one telling exchange, the Professor reaffirms that the plurality of worlds does not detract from the power of the erotic. The Professor begins and then the Marquise interjects, as she always does, getting him back on track: A little weakness for that which is beautiful, that’s my sickness, and I don’t believe the vortices do anything for that. The other worlds may make this one little to you, but they don’t spoil lovely eyes, or a beautiful mouth; those have their full value despite all the possible worlds.” “Love is a strange thing,” she laughed. “It escapes everything, and there’s not one system that can do it harm. But tell me frankly, is your system really true?201 Their dynamic is almost dialectical. He sidetracks himself, insisting on her beauty; she laughs off his harassment and drives the conversation forward. His philosophy does not take away from her beauty; likewise, even though he is distracted, the philosophical ends of their dialogue are propelled forward by their flirtation. Like the Duchess and the Empress, the Marquise and the Professor use the erotic tension between them to extend their imagination out into new worlds.
Mary Blaine Campbell, Wonder & Science: Imagining Worlds in Early Modern Europe (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1999), 147. 201 Fontenelle, Conversations, 64. 200
69 Bibliography Adkins, Gregory Matthew. “When Ideas Matter: The Moral Philosophy of Fontenelle.” Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 61, No. 3 (2000): 433452. Baine Campbell, Mary. Wonder & Science: Imagining Worlds in Early Modern Europe. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1999. Cavendish, Margaret. “The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World.” In The Blazing World and Other Writings, edited by Kate Lilley, 119-225. London: Penguin Books, 1994. —. “The Contract.” In The Blazing World and Other Writings, edited by Kate Lilley, 1-44. London: Penguin Books, 1994. de Fontenelle, Bernard le Bovier. Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds. Translated by H. A. Hargraves. Berkeley: U of California P, 1990. Plato. The Symposium. Translated by Christopher Gill. London: Penguin Books, 2009.
70 The Locus of Sin Contesting Lee’s Critique of Malebranche’s NNC Alex Bryant Nicolas Malebranche introduces the ‘No Necessary Connections’ (NNC) argument for occasionalism in Book Six, Part Two of The Search after Truth (1674).202 While this argument is deficient for reasons outlined by Malebranche in Elucidations on the Search after Truth (1678), which Sukjae Lee both addresses and expands upon in his 2008 paper “Necessary Connections and Continuous Creation: Malebranche’s Two Arguments for Occasionalism,” the argument remains an important point of departure when considering Malebranche’s philosophical project. For this reason, this paper reconstructs the NNC argument with some regard to recent accounts of the argument developed by Lee and Steven Nadler. Lee puts forward two arguments against the NNC in support of the Malebranche’s shift to the ‘Conservation is but Continuous Creation’ argument (CCC) in Malebranche’s later work Dialogue on Metaphysics and on Religion (1688). I will consider only the success of Lee’s objection that the NNC cannot accommodate the moral responsibility of finite minds, disputing Lee’s reading of Malebranche.203 Malebranche’s Aims Over the first two sections of Book Six, chapter 2 of The Search after Truth, Malebranche describes an ideal method for metaphysical inquiry and criticizes Aristotelian scholastic metaphysicians for their methodological failures.204 In those passages, Malebranche argues that scholastics confuse the soul’s sense impressions, the qualities of finite substances, and the modes of extended substances when they assert that the true causes of particular phenomena are sensible faculties inherent to finite substances.205 He insists that Aristotelians’ failure to give a clear account of the ‘qualia’ they derive from sense experience confuses modes of thinking with extended substances themselves. Due to this false equivocation, their account of causal relationships attributes true causal power, rather than occasional power, to finite substances—he later refers to these problems as “the most dangerous error of I owe the term ‘No Necessary Connections’ (NNC) to Sukjae Lee, “Necessary Connections and Continuous Creation: Malebranche’s Two Arguments for Occasionalism,” in Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 46, no. 4, Oct. 2008, pp. 539–565. 203 Malebranche has at least two major arguments that “God is the only true cause.” While the NNC of Search is the only one within the scope of the texts we have read in this class, Lee makes a convincing case that the CCC found in Dialogue on Metaphysics and on Religion is superior. 204 Nicolas Malebranche, The Search after Truth, translated and edited by Thomas L. Lennon and Paul J. Olscamp (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997), 437-439. 205 Ibid., 441-443. 202
71 [Aristotelians]”.206 While Cartesian mechanists provide a clear account of natural effects with particulate motion, Malebranche argues that their work— which he argues is based upon question-begging lists of contradictory and self-referential qualities and faculties—does not attend to the actual basis of causal relationships in the will of God, thereby disguising God’s omniscience.207 To treat this problem, and with an eye to developing Descartes’ project in the Meditations (1641), Malebranche dedicates his third chapter (6.2.3) to developing an account of causal relationships that will provide a metaphysical foundation for mechanistic science. While, if successful, that project would not change the work of mechanistic science (e.g. deriving predictive generalisations from natural regularities), Malebranche’s elaboration of the then-recent Cartesian account of substance would further reconcile Cartesian metaphysics with a scientific paradigm that reduces phenomena to matter in motion. 208 Against his characterisation of the scholastic view, Malebranche sets out to show that God is the only true causal power, that the uniformity of nature as it appears through causal relationships is the manifestation of God’s will, and that phenomena that appear to lead to particular effects stand in occasional rather than true causal relations to each other. 209 To reach these three conclusions, Malebranche first gives a Cartesian argument for why finite substances cannot produce effects in other finite substances, then an argument for the perfection of God’s will, and finally pulls these two arguments together to show that God is the only true cause of any effect. The No Necessary Connections Argument (NNC) The relations Malebranche considers in Search 6.2.3 are necessary connections between true causes and their effects. Malebranche’s sense of the ‘necessity’ of a necessary connection is particularly important: the connection between a cause and an effect is necessary only if one is unable to imagine the effect not follow. Malebranche does not mean that all antecedents to a modus ponens or modus tollens relationship are true causes, but only those antecedents whose consequence one cannot imagine failing. Nadler characterizes this assumption as non-omnipotence of finite minds, as Malebranche later argues that the wills of finite minds do not have perfect efficacy contra the perfect success of God’s will.210 It is also helpful to note that Malebranche uses the terms occasional and natural to refer to causes that have the appearance of being the reason for some effect while not being the true cause in a necessary sense. Malebranche first argues that no body (in the sense of a material Ibid., 442, 446. Ibid., 444. 208 Steven Nadler, “Malebranche on Causation,” in The Cambridge Companion to Malebranche, edited by Steven M. Nadler (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000), 131-132. 209 Malebranche, Search, 448. 210 Nadler, “Malebranche on Causation,” 118. 206 207
72 object comprised of extended particles) can bring about an effect either in itself or in another body by itself, as the initiation of a causal relationship requires the conscious volition of a mind. 211 As a result, any movement that occurs in a body (the basis of mechanistic accounts of natural phenomena) must have its origin in a mind. Accepting that minds must be the cause of effects in bodies, Malebranche then recalls his assertion of the nonomnipotence of finite minds and notes that there cannot be a necessary connection between the will of a finite mind and another substance, because it is not necessary that the will of a finite mind bring about an effect. Malebranche thus also concludes that no finite mind can be the true cause of an effect in an extended (in the Cartesian sense) substance.212 Notice also that the combination of the non-omnipotence assumption with Malebranche’s view that cause requires will means that this argument holds across cases of mind-body, mind-mind, and body-body causal relationships: if necessary connections require an infinite will, the only true cause in any causal relationship is God (e.g. there can be no necessary connection between finite substances).213 Having shown that bodies cannot be the true cause of movements in other bodies, nor can there be a necessary connection between finite minds and bodies, Malebranche argues that the only remaining will available to be the true cause of causal relationships is God’s will.214 Thus, he argues, when considering the true cause of any observed regularity in nature, the antecedent event to every effect is God’s will. God’s will must then be the true cause of all motion, and in that respect all phenomena considered by mechanistic science.215 In addition, Malebranche claims that “laws” which suggest a natural, mechanistic regularity, only describe the coincidence of God’s will across many events. In this sense, bodies do not act upon each each other, but are instead caused to move in ways that seem to be regular. The movements of bodies in relation to one another only bring about occasions for God’s laws to cause some effect.216 Malebranche uses the movement of the body as a helpful example and, as Malebranche, Search, 448. Nadler makes a very useful contribution here, recognizing that the active character of causal acts “cannot be reduced to or explained in terms of [the essentially passive features] shape, size, or divisibility (that is, in terms purely of ‘relations of distance’).” Nadler, “Malebranche on Causation,” 120. 212 Malebranche, Search, 448. 213 Lee derives the name for the No Necessary Connection argument from this section. 214 Malebranche, Search, 448. 215 Ibid. Though Nadler points out that Malebranche does not expect occasionalist scientists to begin their propositions with “God willing, […].” Nadler, “Malebranche on Causation,” 131. 216 Malebranche, Search, 449. 211
73 Nadler points out, an additional argument for the occasionalist position.217 The will, as a judging faculty, requires both an object and understanding of how to accomplish its aim. When an arm rises in conjunction with the owner’s will, that person does not individually will the many particles, muscles, joints, and tendons that comprise the arm to move in particular ways—it seems that this would be impossible given the sheer amount of information required to accomplish such a task.218 Instead, Malebranche argues, the volition to move the arm provides an occasion for God’s action— either by willing that infinite particles of the arm move in such a way that the arm rises or not. Thus, despite a finite mind having willed effect, the true cause of the arm’s movement is God’s will and not that of the mind. At least three consequences arise from Malebranche’s NNC argument, including the positive claims of occasionalism. First, while there are “no forces, powers, or true causes in the material sensible world,” either in minds or bodies, Malebranche’s account God’s causal intervention in every natural causal sequence retains a version of free will whereby minds bring about the occasion for God to act. 219 God acts to bring about particular phenomena only when a natural activity of the mind or of a material object brings about an occasion for God to exercise His will, but those activities are independent of God’s will lest they interact with each other.220 The Problem of Sin One of the two reasons that Sukjae Lee advances in his paper “Necessary Connections and Continuous Creation” for why Malebranche emphasizes the CCC argument rather than the NNC argument for occasionalism following the publication of Search is that the NNC does not grant souls enough causal agency to allow for individual moral responsibility. 221 Lee argues that the key premise of occasionalism, that a cause is only the true cause of an event when there is necessary connection between that cause and its effect, “appears to entail that there simply are no causal connections that can be tracked back to [a] creature”—by which he means the finite mind that wills whatever effect.222 He goes on to argue that this premise is too restrictive and foregoes any account of the free will of moral agents.223 Lee emphasizes that when occasionalism assumes the NNC argument the separation between the will of a soul and the effect that the will gives God occasion to cause is too wide to allow moral blame to individual souls. However, Lee’s argument against the NNC hinges on a less-thangenerous account of the NNC in Search and Malebranche’s comments on sin Nadler, “Malebranche on Causation,” 121. Nadler, “Malebranche on Causation,” 122. Malebranche, Search, 450. 219 Malebranche, Search, 449. 220 Ibid., 448. 221 Sukjae Lee, “Necessary Connections,” 541. 222 Ibid., 544, 550. 223 Ibid., 552. 217 218
74 in Elucidations. Lee’s reading of the NNC and, as a result, his argument against it, are too strong because he disregards the privation model of sin that Malebranche makes explicit in Elucidations. Recall the structure of the relationship between a willing mind, God, and a particular effect: the mind wills a certain effect, this willing occasions God to exercise His will that the effect occur, then, due to God’s willing, the effect occurs.224 If a mind wills that an arm should move upward, the act of the mind’s willing occasions God to will that arm to move upward, and so, due to God and not mind, it does. It is important to recognize the role of finite minds which provide occasions for God to act: while the lack of a finite will does not foreclose God’s ability to act, it does provide an opportunity (an occasion) for God to will that the effect of a necessary cause occur. Consider this simple moral example: a mind wills that its body moves in such a way as to steal a wallet from a passerby; given the mind’s willing this action, God wills that the body steals the wallet, and thus the body gently reaches out and swipes the wallet out from the pocket of the passerby. In such a case, Lee argues that Malebranche’s emphasis that there is no necessary connection between the natural cause (the willing of a sinful mind) and the effect (the theft of the wallet) seems to leave an ostensibly perfect God responsible for this theft. Despite the occasional cause of the soul’s will, Lee argues that “occasional causes literally do not bring about anything; they merely “occasion” various events that are brought about by divine volition.”225 While Lee is correct to claim that NNC occasionalism does attribute true causal efficacy to natural causes like the volitions of a mind, Malebranche did not neglect this concern in his later comments on Search. Unfortunately, Lee fails to treat Malebranche’s comments on free will and sin in Search. Preceding the NNC argument and following it, Malebranche comments that souls “merely follow” God’s impressions through their own free will.226 In this sense souls, through the use of judgement and will, either tend toward the real good of God or “towards false goods, according to the law of the flesh” that Malebranche also attributes to Aristotelians.227 Following the NNC argument, Malebranche makes a similar claim about the moral consequences that seem to arise from NNC occasionalism when he writes: “it is [God] who executes our wills […] He moves our arms even when we use them against His orders; for He complains through His prophet that we make Him serve our unjust and criminal desires.”228 In these comments, Malebranche suggests that while souls have an inextinguishable impression of God’s good, they may also tend towards God will bring about the effect a finite mind provides the occasion for, but not because He is required to. 225 Lee, “Necessary Connections,” 551, note 22. 226 Malebranche, Search, 449. 227 Ibid. 228 Ibid., 451. 224
75 false goods. In the light of Malebranche’s view that souls manifest their free well and can act against the impulses of God towards good, Lee’s view that souls “literally do not bring about anything” through their will seems strong.229 The tendencies away from God’s impulses in souls are sinful in the sense of privation that Malebranche expands upon in Elucidations 1 and 15. In Elucidations, Malebranche articulates a view of sin compatible with the NNC. There, he argues that to sin is to “stop and rest” rather than follow the “invincible impulse” towards the good of God, to love an object rather than God, or to fail to regulate one’s love according to the impulse that God has imbued in every soul.230 To be sinful, on this privation account, is to fail to will in accordance with God’s good impulses, and to give occasion for the perfect efficacy of God’s will to bring about sinful effects. Despite Lee’s reading, Malebranche is clear that only finite souls are capable of sin insofar as they are capable of willing God to bring about effects that err from the impulses He has placed in them.231 This account of sin does not accommodate claims about the moral culpability of God as Malebranche’s privation model locates moral goodness in a particular moral agents’ willful adherence to God’s impulse. Returning to wallet example, on this model it is not the effect of the body taking a wallet from a stranger’s pocket that is sinful, but rather the intentions of the soul who willed God to bring about such an effect. In both Search and Elucidations, Malebranche considered concerns consistent with Lee and advanced an account of sin that accommodates worries about the possibility of God’s role in immoral wills of finite minds. Despite Lee’s complaint that that the NNC is too strong to accommodate free will and moral responsibility, Malebranche’s published comments on this problem are adequate to dismiss Lee’s concern. Conclusion This paper has shown the aims and outcomes of the NNC, and considered an important counterargument levelled both by Early Modern and contemporary thinkers. Lee’s omission of Malebranche’s conception of sin as the privation of good and Malebranche’s elaboration on occasionalist account of freewill in at Search 6.2.3, provide counterarguments that Lee does not address in his 2008 paper. I suspect a review of Malebranche’s account of free will and his conception of ethics through a wider engagement (beyond one chapter of Search) with the primary text would prove to be a useful project. While Lee makes a separate and convincing argument for why Malebranche shifts to the CCC in later work, his first critique is deficient due to a neglect Lee, “Necessary Connections,” 551, note 22. Nicolas Malebranche, “Elucidations of the Search after Truth,” in The Search after Truth, translated and edited by Thomas L. Lennon and Paul J. Olscamp (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997), 548, 549, 551. 231 Ibid., 669. 229 230
76 of Malebranche’s own reply to concern’s similar to Lee’s.
77 Bibliography Lee, Sukjae. “Necessary Connections and Continuous Creation: Malebranche’s Two Arguments for Occasionalism.” Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 46, no. 4 (Oct. 2008): 539–565. Malebranche, Nicolas. “Book Six: Part Two.” In The Search after Truth, translated and edited by Thomas L. Lennon and Paul J. Olscamp, 437–526. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. —. “Elucidations of the Search after Truth.” In The Search after Truth, translated and edited by Thomas L. Lennon and Paul J. Olscamp, 530–753. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Nadler, Steven M. “Malebranche on Causation.” In The Cambridge Companion to Malebranche, edited by Steven M. Nadler, 112–138. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.
78 A Kantian Analysis of Sexualized Violence in Voltaire’s Candide Beth Hawco This essay contains includes discussion of sexualized violence. A work of satire, Voltaire’s Candide makes use of sexual themes to highlight social and gender inequity in 18th-century France. Voltaire riddles Candide with sexual violence and virtually every chapter has some mention of sex, consensual or otherwise. In the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant describes sex as “cannibalistic.”232 He writes that in “this sort of use by each of the sexual organs of the other, each is actually a consumable thing with respect to the other, so that if one were to make oneself such thing by contract, the contract would be contrary to the law.”233 Kant’s aggressive stance on sexuality can appear one-noted; however, the differentiating degrees of immorality are actually quite subtle and nuanced. Voltaire’s brazenly sexual novel allows for a thorough study of Kant’s sexual philosophy and vice versa; a Kantian lens helps reveal Candide’s sexual themes and their ethical implications, particularly how Voltaire subverts traditional ideas concerning degrees of sexual immorality through the characters of Cunegonde and Paquette. It is not my intention to give a totalizing or generalizing analysis of Candide; but rather, in true Kantian fashion, I would like to analyze the sexualized and gendered violence in Candide through a series of casuistical examples taken from the novel. Overall, Voltaire and Kant have similar opinions and views on sexuality. Both agree that sex can be a perverted decision against duty and in favour of inclination. Voltaire is interested in the duties to society that men forgo when they follow a sexual inclination, while Kant’s focus is on the duty to oneself that both men and women deny when they engage in non-marital sexual activity. Kant formulates the categorical imperative—the fundamental law of his ethics—in a few different ways; however, I wish to emphasize the formulation that is to always treat yourself and others as ends and never as means. For Kant, ethics are a question of moral duty to oneself and to others. Therefore, there is a moral imperative to act dutifully in opposition to your personal inclination. Acting in accordance with duty against personal inclination not only makes us moral, but also free. In the Doctrine of Virtue, Kant writes, “A human being has a duty to carry the cultivation of his will up to the purest virtuous disposition, in which the law becomes also the incentive to his actions that conform with duty and he obeys the law from duty.”234 For Kant, a human must be constantly striving towards self-perfection. One achieves perfection through fostering one’s will to act morally, that is, to act dutifully. The law acts as an incentive towards duty and against inclination. Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, trans. Mary Gregor (New York: Cambridge UP, 2013), 127. 233 Ibid., 128. 234 Ibid., 151. 232
79 Kant writes, “the very concept of duty is already the concept of a necessitation (constraint) of free choice through the law.”235 For Kant, the law dictates many of our external duties and it is through the law that they become external. It is law not to rape an individual; ergo, one has a duty not to rape. According to Kant, this negation of free choice is liberating because it aids the person in the endeavour to attain perfection. Duty and inclination oppose one another and an action is only moral when it chooses duty over inclination. Kant theorizes that most often the will is inclined towards inclination and it is up to the individual to train the will away from inclination and towards duty. Accordingly, a virtuous will is that which follows duty above and at the expense of inclination. Since mankind’s universal aim should be towards humanity’s perfection, on an individual level “a human being has a duty to raise himself from the crude state of his nature, from his animality, more and more towards humanity.”236 For Kant, the sexual impulse comes from mankind’s animality and therefore detracts from his humanity. Kant defines “sexual union [as] the reciprocal use that one human being makes of the sexual organs and capacities of another.”237 Sex consists of individuals using each other bodies as objects for pleasure. The categorical imperative dictates that people treat each other as ends and never means; therefore, allowing yourself to be seen and used as an object for the means of sexual pleasure is committing an immoral act against yourself and your sexual partner. To allow yourself to be used as an object is a negation of you own personhood; conversely, to use another person as an object denies them their personhood. Kant says that “for the natural use that one sex makes of the others sexual organs is enjoyment for which one gives itself up to the other. In this act a human being makes himself into a thing, which conflicts with the right of humanity in his own person.”238 To reiterate, for Kant sex always negates the humanity in both individuals, as both are using the other as means to their pleasurable ends. Marriage alone rectifies sexuality relationship to one’s humanity for Kant. Through marriage, we are able to ethically satisfy our sexual desires. On its own, Kantian sex does not include connective or emotional union; it does not involve reciprocity of spirit. A marriage, however, is a contract in which one gives both your body and soul to another. Therefore, for Kant, it is necessary that sexual union be “in accordance with marriage, that is, the union of two persons of different sexes for lifelong possession of each other’s sexual attributes.”239 Though the issue of possession remains, Kant says marriage is ethically sound because “the relation of the partners in a marriage
Ibid., 145. Ibid., 151 237 Ibid., 61-2. 238 Ibid., 62. 239 Ibid. 235 236
80 is a relation of equality of possession.”240 A marriage, through the mutual agreement and the reciprocity of soul in addition to sex, creates an equality of possession, which nullifies it. Any scenario in which sex occurs outside a marriage is considered immoral under Kantian ethics, meaning that outside the confines of marriage any sexual act is an inequity of possession. Radical inequity of possession is why rape is the most immoral form of sexual union. Rape is a total inequality in possession, whereby the rapist momentarily has complete possession of another person. The person being raped has their ‘possessions’ taken from them, while receiving nothing in return, as they have no desire to possess their rapist. Additionally, the rapist’s purposeful pursuit of inclination against his moral duty disregards the categorical imperative. Kant believes rape to be a particularly morally culpable act. To begin my analysis of Candide, I would also like to first discuss Kant’s ideas of virtue and rightful honor. For Kant, virtue is the individual strength and ability to overcome the obstacles of natural inclination in order to fulfill their duty.241 These obstacles are self-imposed through the maxims man gives himself. Kant says that “virtue is not merely a self-constraint, but also a self-constraint in accordance with a principle of freedom.”242 Generally, men in Candide lack Kantian virtue. They debase themselves and others by giving in to their inclination and their animality. They use women as means and objects, through sexual slavery, rape, and extramarital sex. In chapter three of Candide, the titular character describes the scene of a pillaged Abar village and how “girls, disemboweled after having satisfied the natural instincts of some hero, breathed their last.”243 Voltaire ironically introduces his subtle, gendered argument that continues throughout the text. In “satisfying their natural instincts,” the pillaging soldiers demonstrate their lack of virtue by following their animality. The ironic use of “hero” indicates that Voltaire, like Kant, believes that forgoing moral duties to pursue natural inclination is anything but heroic. Later in the novel, Candide and Pangloss reconnect with Paquette, the Westphalian chambermaid whose youthful naïveté Pangloss exploits at the beginning of the book. She tells them of her journeys and how she came to Venice. During her tale, she recounts how a “Franciscan who was my confessor seduced me without difficulty.”244 Voltaire shows that men lack Kantian virtue through the female experience. Even though she is talking about her own experiences, her story says more about the men around her than it does about herself. A Franciscan friar has a duty to God to be chaste; he has a duty to his confessors to be trustworthy. Moreover, as a confessor Ibid., 63. Ibid.,156. 242 Ibid. 243 Voltaire, Candide in Candide and Related Texts, ed. and trans. David Wootton (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000), 6. 244 Ibid., 61. 240 241
81 his primary duty is to help his interlocutor behave morally as per Christian doctrine. In the case of this friar, however, he chose to forgo multiple duties to satisfy his animality. The first description of sex in Candide is the encounter between Pangloss and Paquette. This encounter is intriguingly immoral under Kant’s ethics. Voltaire describes Cunegonde witnessing Pangloss: giving a lesson in experimental physics to her [Cunegonde’s] mother’s serving girl, a little brunette who was very pretty and very pliable […] she watched (without so much as breathing) the series of experiments of which she was the witness; she could plainly see the doctor’s sufficient reason, the effects and causes.245 Like all sex in Candide, the encounter between Pangloss and Paquette is outside marriage. Therefore, according to Kantian doctrine, it is immoral regardless of any other circumstances. However, the language Voltaire uses to describe the sexual encounter is particularly interesting. For Kant, the negation of Paquette’s humanity through Voltaire’s description is more offensive than the sex itself. Through the language of experimental physics, Voltaire removes Paquette’s humanity entirely, above and beyond Pangloss’ actions. In this moment, she becomes a complete object; Voltaire describes her as “pliable” and as the object of experimentation. The experimental language negates her personhood. This is not a person having sex with another person; rather, Pangloss uses her like a scientific instrument to achieve a certain end. Voltaire still describes Pangloss, however, in humanizing language, calling him “the doctor.” It is a very small phrase, but it indicates that Pangloss is more human than Paquette. Paquette’s linguistic dehumanisation, in contrast to the humanizing description of Pangloss, indicates a lack of consent on her part. Kant would say it shows an inequality in possession, which for him is a defining characteristic of rape. Through the language of the scene, Voltaire emphasizes Pangloss’ immoral actions and, casuistically, of men in general. Voltaire continuously presents this theme: that men in positions of power use their inequality to take advantage of powerless women. One of the common ways that Voltaire expresses men’s abuse of women is through his characters’ engagement in prostitution. In Kantian thought, there is a tension around the ethics of prostitution. Kant argues that both parties engaging in prostitution are acting equally immorally. He says of prostitution, neither concubinage nor hiring a person for enjoyment on one occasion is a contract that could hold in right […] So, with regard to the former, a contract to be a concubine also comes with nothing; for this would be a contract to let and hire a member for another’s use, in which, because of the inseparable unity of members in a person, she
82 would be surrendering herself as a thing to the others choice. 246 The person hiring the “concubine” is acting immorally because he is using another human as a means rather than an end. The prostitute is similarly immoral, because she is forgoing her duty to her personhood. By selling her body she is reciprocating the idea that she is a thing (or a means) rather than an end. In Candide, Paquette’s description of her life as a prostitute complicates Kant’s views on prostitution. Of her new life, Paquette says she is “forced to continue this horrible profession, which you men think is good for a laugh, and which for us women is an ocean of misery.”247 Paquette as a prostitute unwillingly forgoes her personhood. Her lack of other viable options led her to this lifestyle. In Paquette’s prostitution, Voltaire highlights the limited options for lower class women and how easily in his social climate women can fall into prostitution. Candide points to a more morally complicated position than Kant’s unempathetic, unflinching deontology. Paquette’s story is not unique and the familiarity of her story is intentional. Cunegonde’s situation is more in line with Kant’s idea of prostitution than Paquette’s. In Spain, Cunegonde finds herself the object of a property dispute between the Inquisitor and Issachar. Both men want to own her as their sex slave. Unlike Paquette, who makes it knows she detests her position, Cunegonde seems much more complacent in her situation. She says on the men: Finally my Jew, intimidated, reached an agreement whereby the house and I would belong to both of them in common, the Jew having Mondays, Wednesdays, and the Sabbath for himself, and the Inquisitor having the other days of the week.248 She seems content with the arrangement, as it gives her security, a comfortable home, and nice things. Though Candide thinks Cunegonde is held prisoner, her situation with the Inquisitor and Issachar adheres to Kant’s understanding of prostitution. She surrenders herself to their choice, and is willing to do so again. When Candide kills the Inquisitor and Issachar, Cunegonde says, “what will we live on? How will we get by? Where will I find an Inquisitor or a Jew who will give me more?”249 Although her captors objectify her and use her as a sex slave, Cunegonde accepts her dependence on them for her survival. She exchanges her body as a commodity for security, shelter, and a comfortable lifestyle. Though they initially force her into her situation, likely Kant would deem her concern for finding a similar arrangement more immoral than Paquette’s prostitution. The men in Candide are exemplary in their lack of Kantian virtue; however, as Cunegonde’s case exemplifies, the women in Candide can be equally as immoral as their male counterparts. While the men lack Kantian Kant, Metaphysics of Morals, 63. Voltaire, Candide, 61. 248 Ibid., 16. 249 Ibid., 19. 246 247
83 virtue, the women lack what Kant defines as rightful honour. For Kant, “rightful honour consists in asserting one’s worth as a human being in relation to others, a duty expressed by saying ‘Do not make yourself a mere means for other but be at the same time an end for them.’”250 Women in Candide sometimes assert their worth as human beings, but, in Kantian terms, they sometimes accept their objectification and even perpetuate it. Kant would see women lacking rightful honour in many of the sexual narratives in Candide. Cunegonde echoes Kant’s idea of rightful honour when she says that “a person of honour can be raped once, but their virtue is strengthened by it.”251 Here, Cunegonde claims that a first rape does not reflect on the victim’s honour or virtue, since the act of rape is not reciprocal—it is being physically imposed on the victim against their will. However, by saying that rape only strengthens virtue “once,” Cunegonde implies that any subsequent sexual activity—including another rape—reflects negatively on a woman’s honour. Ironically, she has been subject to numerous rapes when she says this and is implying that she herself lacks honour. Both Cunegonde and Kant agree that her actions show a lack of rightful honour. As we have seen, the exploitative experiences of other female characters in Candide, however, complicate Kant’s idea of duty relative to his idea of rightful honour. In Candide, the female characters forgo their rightful honour and their virtue out of necessity. With Paquette, Voltaire raises the question, which is the greater duty, sexual propriety or survival? With Cunegonde, Voltaire expresses the ways in which women manipulate social structures to benefit from their sexuality. In this way, though Paquette the common-born prostitute may be considered a more traditionally immoral character, Kant and Voltaire both suggest she is more moral than upper class Cunegonde. It is important to note that Kant and Voltaire would only agree here because Voltaire crafts it in this way. More broadly, it should be noted that Voltaire’s views on prostitution are much more sympathetic than Kant’s. The women in the novel act against duty, though the animality they choose to follow is the animal instinct of survival. This is more virtuous than the men’s immorality. Throughout the novel, men in Candide repeatedly choose their sexual impulses over their moral duties to themselves, to women, their professions, and to society.
Kant, Metaphysics of Morals, 29. Voltaire, Candide, 16.
84 Bibliography Kant, Immanuel. The Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by Mary Gregor. New York: Cambridge UP, 2013. Voltaire. Candide. In Candide and Related Texts. Edited and translated by David Wootton. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000.
85 Afterword: On the Body Politick In the past, the image on the cover of Babel has been an Early Modern work or a work explicitly referencing the Early Modern period. This year, however, it is neither. The drawing on the cover was created by Evangeline Freeman specifically for this edition of Babel. This image, which depicts two torsos covered in vines, fungi, and flowers, could not be more perfect for this edition of Babel. The individuals on the cover have no faces and no limbs below the shoulder and mid-thigh. Their gazes are unknowable. They stand like fragmented Classical statues as you would encounter them in museums, propped up by braces and poles, except these torsos are not fragmented—they are complete. There is no gesture and no motion; not even genitalia is required. There are grassy tufts of hair and flowering sprigs and colonies of mushroomy protuberances. There are two bodies. This is what we are discussing in this journal: bodies physical and metaphysical, bodies politic and politicized. It is to this final category—bodies politicized—that we would particularly like to dedicate our introductory remarks. In our consideration of the Early Modern treatment of bodies, we were struck again and again by how rarely those whose bodies are politicized get a say in the politicisation of their bodies, how the choice to enter into a politicisation of one’s body is almost entirely reserved for those in positions of power and privilege. This journal recognizes how people’s bodies are often stolen from them, physically and philosophically, by prejudicial theory, unchallenged custom, and sheer bigotry. No body is totally neutral to these ways of thinking and the behaviours they encourage. There is value in trying to unpack them. In this edition of Babel, we make an attempt at doing so. Evangeline’s drawing reminds us that bodies, no matter how we politicize or ‘civilize’ or abstract from them, are a product and function of nature. With this edition of Babel, we pose a challenge to the ways we traditionally think about bodies and the kinds of bodies we deem worthy of thinking about. All bodies are worthy of dignity and consideration. Gramercy.
Hannah Sparwasser Soroka Co-president, 2017-18
Published on May 12, 2017