Magical Imaginations: Instrumental Aesthetics in the English Renaissance
Published: January 2012© 2011
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 184 Pages
Dimensions: 6.30 x 9.30
184 Pages, 6.30 x 9.30 x 0.75 in
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In the English Renaissance, poetry was imagined to inspire moral behaviour in its readers, but the efficacy of poetry was also linked to 'conjuration,' the theologically dangerous practice of invoking spirits with words. Magical Imaginations explores how major writers of the period – including Spenser, Marlowe, and Shakespeare – negotiated this troubling link between poetry and magic in their attempts to transform readers and audiences with the power of art.
Through analyses of texts ranging from sermons and theological treatises to medical tracts and legal documents, Genevieve Guenther sheds new light on magic as a cultural practice in early modern England. She demonstrates that magic was a highly pragmatic, even cynical endeavor infiltrating unexpected spheres – including Elizabethan taxation policy and Jacobean political philosophy. With this new understanding of early modern magic, and a fresh context for compelling readings of classic literary works, Magical Imaginations reveals the central importance of magic to English literary history.
Conjuration and The Defense of Poesy
The Demonology of Spenserian Discipline
Why Devils Came when Faustus Called Them
The End of Magic: Instrumental Aesthetics in The Tempest
Epilogue (Kant's Charm)
‘This book’s compelling emphasis on “the power of aesthetic representation to produce ideological effects” renders it of great interest not only to scholars of early modern magic but to anyone concerned with the crucial relation between human imaginative production and ideological coercion.’ Ian McAdam, Renaissance Quarterly, vol 65:04:2012