Cover image for Dynamic Matter: Transforming Renaissance Objects Edited by Jennifer Linhart Wood

Dynamic Matter

Transforming Renaissance Objects

Edited by Jennifer Linhart Wood

COMING IN MAY

$119.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09253-9
Coming in May

272 pages
6" × 9"
28 b&w illustrations
2022

Cultural Inquiries in English Literature, 1400–1700

Dynamic Matter

Transforming Renaissance Objects

Edited by Jennifer Linhart Wood

“The essays collected in Dynamic Matter enact a series of dazzling revelations. They range across the literary and the visual arts, confessional difference, and forms of entertainment that are both public and more personal; taken together, they reinvigorate the conversation about objects and subjects (and objects as subjects) in the Renaissance.”

 

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Dynamic Matter investigates the life histories of Renaissance objects. Eschewing the critical tendency to study how objects relate to human needs and desires, this work foregrounds the objects themselves, demonstrating their potential to transform their environments as they travel across time and space.

Integrating early modern material theories with recent critical approaches in Actor-Network Theory and object-oriented ontology, this volume extends Aristotle’s theory of dynameos—which conceptualizes matter as potentiality—and applies it to objects featured in early modern texts such as Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Individual chapters explore the dynameos of matter by examining its manifestations in particular forms: combs are inscribed with words and brushed through human hair; feathers are incorporated into garments and artwork; Prince Rupert’s glasswork drops explode; a whale becomes animated by the power of a magical bracelet; and books are drowned. These case studies highlight the potentiality matter itself possesses and that which it activates in other matter.

A theorization of objects grounded in Renaissance materialist thought, Dynamic Matter examines the richness of things themselves; the larger, multiple, and changing networks in which things circulate; and the networks created by these transformative objects.

In addition to the editor, the contributors to this volume include Anna Riehl Bertolet, Erika Mary Boeckeler, Naomi Howell, Emily E. F. Philbrick, Josie Schoel, Maria Shmygol, Edward McLean Test, Abbie Weinberg, and Sarah F. Williams.

“The essays collected in Dynamic Matter enact a series of dazzling revelations. They range across the literary and the visual arts, confessional difference, and forms of entertainment that are both public and more personal; taken together, they reinvigorate the conversation about objects and subjects (and objects as subjects) in the Renaissance.”
Dynamic Matter furthers the scholarly conversation in the cultural “life histories” of early modern things by turning towards the transformative power of their unexpected, untimely, and mobile networks. A valuable contribution to many conversations, this smartly theorized and tightly organized volume is thought-provoking and original, capacious and accessible, and at many points even exciting to read. This book will quickly become an essential resource for the study of Renaissance material culture.”

Jennifer Linhart Wood teaches at George Mason University and is a member of the editorial staff of Shakespeare Quarterly at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She is the author of Sounding Otherness in Early Modern Drama and Travel: Uncanny Vibrations in the English Archive.