English Renaissance Literature and Contemporary Theory: Sublime Objects of Theology

Palgrave-Macmillan (2007)

Abstract

Cefalu offers the first sustained assessment of the ways in which recent contemporary philosophy and cultural theory -- including the work of Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Eric Santner, Slavoj Žižek, and Alenka Zupancic -- can illuminate Early Modern literature and culture. The book argues that when selected Early Modern devotional poets set out to represent subject-God relations, they often encounter some sublime aspect of God that, in Slovenian-Lacanian terms, seems "Other" to himself. This divine Other, while sometimes presented directly as a void or empty place, is more often filled in and presented instead as some form of divine excess. While Donne, and to a lesser extent Traherne, disavow those numinous aspects of God that might subsist beneath such excesses, Crashaw, and especially Milton, attempt to represent the intimate relationship between any creature’s and God's intrinsic alterity. Cefalu introduces new ways of theorizing not only seventeenth-century religious ideologies, but also the nature of Early Modern subjectivity

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