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Dangerous Frontispieces: Graphic Charactering and the Scandal of Representation in English Renaissance Literature.

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dc.contributor.author Shep, Sydney Jocelyn
dc.date.accessioned 2008-07-29T03:03:03Z
dc.date.accessioned 2022-10-25T01:36:32Z
dc.date.available 2008-07-29T03:03:03Z
dc.date.available 2022-10-25T01:36:32Z
dc.date.copyright 1994
dc.date.issued 1994
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.wgtn.ac.nz/handle/123456789/22808
dc.description.abstract This dissertation argues that two competing systems of signification existed in the English Renaissance: the scientific and the rhetorical. The first assumes a prelapsarian ideal of unmediated and unequivocal correspondence between signifier and signified, an approach rooted in centuries of pseudo-scientific, theological and philosophical thought, and supported by the objective methodology and material knowledge of the scientific revolution. The second calls this identity into question by emphasising that arbitrary, strictly conventional, and tenuous relationship between the signifier and signified, an approach based upon a recognition of the representational nature of language. The tension between these two referential systems can be profitably illustrated by an examination of character in the period. The concept of character brings into relief the mechanisms of representation which either enable or disable these two semiotic systems. The scene of engagement is located upon the body, where graphic technology - brought. to bear both in writing and picturing - exposes the representational link between signifier and the signified. Renaissance definitions of character are based upon a physiognomic model which posits a direct. Correspondence between the inner and the outer man. character – that ineffable essence which individualises a person – is rendered visible and legible through tangible marks or characters physically inscribed upon the body; "character" embraces both the literal and the figurative, the concrete and the abstract. However, the conceptualisation of the body as the interface between an inner and outer reality suggests that the assumed unity of signifier and signified - that is, the identity of the person - is always already signalled by difference and separation. This is confirmed by the rhetoric of contemporary physiognomic texts, whose scientific approach is betrayed by the very same graphic technology employed as a vehicle for characterological definition. The scandalous result is awareness of the body as the scene of duplicitous representation, spurious copies, and wandering reproductions. In the space opened up between the signifier and signified, caricature and satire prevail. This pattern of displacement and subsequent redefinition is repeated in a study of other representations of character particular to the period: portrait miniatures, the genre of character literature, and drama. As a consequence of this tension between competing semiotic systems, the Renaissance witnessed a crisis of representation, a profound revaluation of grounds of signification, and a thorough rethinking of the notion of character. As the scientific, physiognomic prescription is proven fallible, rhetorical forms of evidence verifiable in the courtroom are deployed to explain character. Ultimately, the scene of engagement is relocated entirely: the body is replaced by the space of psychic interiority and the attendant analysis of human subjectivity. Graphic charactering per se is then relegated to the margins of rhetorical discourse. en_NZ
dc.language en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Art and literature en_NZ
dc.subject England en_NZ
dc.subject History en_NZ
dc.subject 16th century en_NZ
dc.subject 17th century en_NZ
dc.subject Early modern 1500-1700 en_NZ
dc.subject Visual perception in literature en_NZ
dc.title Dangerous Frontispieces: Graphic Charactering and the Scandal of Representation in English Renaissance Literature. en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ
thesis.degree.discipline English en_NZ
thesis.degree.grantor Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en_NZ
thesis.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ

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