Ambiguous Antidotes: Virtue as Vaccine for Vice in Early Modern Spain
Published: November 2017© 2017
360 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.00 in
Chastity and lust, charity and greed, humility and pride, are but some of the virtues and vices that have been in tension since Prudentius’ Psychomachia, written in the fifth century. While there has been widespread agreement within a given culture about what exactly constitutes a virtue or a vice, are these categories so consistent after all?
In Ambiguous Antidotes, Hilaire Kallendorf explores the receptions of Virtues in the realm of moral philosophy and the artistic production it influenced during the Spanish Golden Age. Using the Derridian notion of pharmakon, a powerful substance that can serve as poison and cure, Kallendorf’s original and pioneering insight into five key Virtues (justice, fortitude, chastity, charity, and prudence) reveals an intriguing but messy relationship. Rather than being seen as unambiguously good antidotes, the Virtues are instead contested spaces where competing sets of values jostled for primacy and hegemony. Employing an arsenal of tools drawn from literary theory and cultural studies, Ambiguous Antidotes confirms that you can in fact have too much of a good thing.
List of Figures
Prologue: Virtuous Genealogies
1. Blind Justice
2. Fleeting Fortitude
3. Charity as Greed
4. Loose Chastity
5. Prudence: Panacea or Placebo?
6. Class Trumps Sex: (En)Gendering Virtue
Epilogue: Virtual Virtue
"This ambitious volume is written with great verve and stands to open many doors for future comedia study."Shifra Armon, University of Florida, Bulletin des Commandants, 2019
"The book confirms the great potential of Golden Age drama as a source of case studies. The commercial stage was a locus where popular demand intersected with the sort of normative discourse generated by the cultural, religious, and political elites: as Kallendorf points out, the theater can be viewed as an ‘artificially constructed laboratory for the study of moral behaviour.’"José María Pérez Fernández, Universidad de Granada, Renaissance Quarterly, Summer 2020
"There are many things to like about Ambiguous Antidotes: Kallendorf’s genial voice, the scope of the argument, the breathtaking range, the coverage of subjects from political philosophy, to theology, to poor relief, to medicine. With stunning erudition, Kallendorf ranges across early modern textual production with a refreshing curiosity."Francisco Lopez-Martin, Denison University
"This is a timely and important book that, in this time of social polarization and political crisis, reminds us that our social fabric depends on our daily practice of the classical virtues. Prof. Kallendorf builds on her own biography and her deep knowledge of the Golden Age tradition to offer us another outstanding piece of scholarship.".Juan-Luis Suárez, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Western University