A compelling cultural reinterpretation of humanist discourses of boyhood The English epyllion, the highly erotic mythological verse that swept the London literary scene in the 1590s, is as much about rhetoric as about sex. So argues William Weaver in this fascinating study of Renaissance education and poetry. Rhetoric, moreover, is erotic. Far being merely formal, rhetoric is the key to deciphering the cultural meanings of an enigmatic genre. Weaver attends to one of the epyllion's defining dramas: boys in transition to adulthood. Whereas recent studies of the epyllion have posited sexuality as the primary, even exclusive, means of representing beautiful boys, Weaver discovers that Renaissance male sexuality itself is an effect of a disciplinary drama of pedagogical transition from boyhood to adolescence, grammar to rhetoric. This drama of differentiation, lucidly expounded by Weaver, is at the heart of the erotic epyllia of Shakespeare, Marlowe and their imitators.
Key Features *Focuses on six poems written between 1592 and 1594, looking to the most inventive period of the English epyllion *Documents previously unknown sources of Marlowe's Hero and Leander and Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis *Makes the first cultural critique of the Renaissance progymnasmata, the popular rhetorical exercises *Shows the vital connections between English poetry and continental rhetoric *Productively complements histories of sexuality, queer theory and feminist criticism
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Number of pages: 232
Weight: 498 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 23 mm