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December 1, 2004
9780801881268
9780801871443
English
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v2.1 Reference

The Site of Petrarchism

Early Modern National Sentiment in Italy, France, and England

Drawing upon poststructuralist theories of nationalism and national identity developed by such writers as Etienne Balibar, Emmanuel Levinas, Julia Kristeva, Antonio Negri, and Slavoj Zizek, noted Renaissance scholar William J. Kennedy argues that the Petrarchan sonnet serves as a site for early modern expressions of national sentiment in Italy, France, England, Spain, and Germany. Kennedy pursues this argument through historical research into Renaissance commentaries on Petrarch's poetry and critical studies of such poets as Lorenzo de' Medici, Joachim du Bellay and the Pléiade brigade, Philip and Mary Sidney, and Mary Wroth.

Kennedy begins with a survey of Petrarch's poetry and its citation in Italy, explaining how major commentators tried to present Petrarch as a spokesperson for competing versions of national identity. He then shows how Petrarch's model helped define social class, political power, and national identity in mid-sixteenth-century France, particularly in the nationalistic sonnet cycles of Joachim Du Bellay. Finally, Kennedy discusses how Philip Sidney and his sister Mary and niece Mary Wroth reworked Petrarch's model to secure their family's involvement in forging a national policy under Elizabeth I and James I.

Treating the subject of early modern national expression from a broad comparative perspective, The Site of Petrarchism will be of interest to scholars of late medieval and early modern literature in Europe, historians of culture, and critical theorists.

About the Author

William J. Kennedy is a professor of comparative literature at Cornell University. He is the author of Rhetorical Norms in Renaissance Literature, Jacop Sannazaro and the Uses of Pastoral, and Authorizing Petrarch.

Reviewss

Kennedy offers with his new book yet another landmark for Petrarchan studies... Combining sociological investigation, historical contextualization, social psychology, bibliographical evidence, refined close readings, and a breathtaking erudition, this major contribution to a general history of nationalism in Europe takes pain to differentiate with great subtlety the French, English, Spanish, or German concepts and realities of national communities.

- Cécile Alduy - Renaissance Quarterly

Imbued with historical learning and literary acumen, Kennedy's study is required reading for all scholarly toilers in the sites of Renaissance lyric.

- Mary Moore - Spenser Review

Endorsements

The Site of Petrarchism is an original, fearsomely learned, and deftly argued study. Only Kennedy could write this book, but everyone in the field will have to read it and absorb its conclusions. The book is destined for a long life in serious scholarship.

- Roland Greene, Stanford University

The book's international perspective makes it especially valuable to anyone seeking a sense of how Petrarch was read and understood in a broader European context.

- Robert C. Evans - Sixteenth Century Journal

The wealth of materials contained in the book is impressive, the prose is compelling, and the argument is persuasive, detailed, and powerful.

- Patricia Phillippy - Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History

This is a book worth reading.

- Richard Helgerson - Comparative Literature Studies
Johns Hopkins University Press
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