Friday, April 27, 2012

The Indistinct Human in Renaissance Literature

by J J Cohen

Vin Nardizzi kindly sent me a copy of this excellent collection of essays he has edited with Jean E. Feerick. I'm posting its table of contents here because many readers of ITM will want to peruse it. If you enjoyed the inaugural issue of postmedieval on the posthuman, this is the book for you. The introduction is superb: a piece on "Swervings" that is not about Lucretius! "We go back to these Renaissance materials," the editors write, "to locate possible futures" (5). The essays that I've read so far do just that.

Like all Palgrave books The Indistinct Human is overpriced ($90), and no ebook has been released. You can save 20% by ordering from Amazon, though (not that $72.01 counts as inexpensive). With its essays on animals, plants and stones, the book is also an unexpected complement to the soon to be released Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects (out before Kalamazoo via punctum; free as a downloadable PDF).

Here's the ToC.

Introduction: Swervings: On Human Indistinction 1
Jean E. Feerick and Vin Nardizzi
Part I The Head-Piece
1 The Eight Animals in Shakespeare; or,
Before the Human 15
Laurie Shannon
Part II Modes of Indistinction
Crossings2 'Half-Fish, Half-Flesh': Dolphins, the Ocean, and
Early Modern Humans 29
Steve Mentz
3 Royal Fish: Shakespeare's Princely Whales 47
Dan Brayton
Bodily Ingestion4 You Are What You Eat: Cooking and Writing Across
the Species Barrier in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair 69
Jay Zysk
5 'A Bett'ring of Nature': Grafting and Embryonic
Development in The Duchess of Malfi 85
Erin Ellerbeck
Technologies of Conjunction
6 Bastard Grafts, Crafted Fruits: Shakespeare's
Planted Families 103
Miranda Wilson
7 The Wooden Matter of Human Bodies: Prosthesis and
Stump in A Larum for London 119
Vin Nardizzi
Part III Indistinct Bodies
(Un)Sexed Bodies
8 Vegetable Love: Botany and Sexuality in
Seventeenth-Century England 139
Marjorie Swann
9 On Vegetating Virgins: Greensickness and the Plant
Realm in Early Modern Literature 159
Hillary M. Nunn
Stony States
10 A Heart of Stone: The Ungodly in Early
Modern England 181
Tiffany Jo Werth11 Of Stones and Stony Hearts: Desdemona, Hermione,
and Post-Reformation Theater 205
Jennifer Waldron
Soiled Bodies
12 Groveling with Earth in Kyd and Shakespeare's
Historical Tragedies 231
Jean E. Feerick
13 The Politic Worm: Invertebrate Life in the Early
Modern English Body 253
Ian MacInnes


  1. Thanks for this! It will be really useful and seems interestingly complementary to a lot of the work PM is doing. I do dislike that so many of Palgrave's (amazing) books are not available as e-books and cost so much money. Don't they realize they could actually make *more* money by having *more* people buy reasonably priced books? *sigh*

  2. Here we are a year later and this book is on KINDLE for $72. Still more than this starving student can afford especially since I'm only interested in one article.


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