Sederi Yearbook 19

Sederi 19
Sederi 19 — 2009
Ana Sáez-Hidalgo
Francisco José Borge López
ISSN 1135-7789


John J. Joughin, “Dividuated selves: on Renaissance criticism, critical finitude and the experience of ethical subjectivity.” SEDERI 19 (2009): 47-71.


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This paper situates the work of Renaissance criticism as a type of belated work of mourning or memorial aesthetics. In particular I want to focus on the emergence of a supposedly “modern” form of subjectivity during the theorisation of Renaissance criticism in the eighties –its distinctiveness as well as its occlusions. For the purpose of this essay I take the work of the British critic Francis Barker as, in some sense, broadly representative of a trend in political criticism that was focused on a recovery of the lost significance of the body as a site of subjection. However, I will also argue that the relocation of the mind-body split in the first wave theorisation of Renaissance criticism needs to be read again. The founding dividuation of self in this early criticism is now often criticised for positioning the subject in reductively functionalist or mechanistic terms, as the product of the discourse of power/knowledge that produced it. However, in much of the work that we label cultural materialist or new historicist, the experience of dualism also secreted an ethical standpoint that is worthy of our re-evaluation. In particular, and in building on the insights of Gillian Rose and Judith Butler on mourning, I suggest that the lyrical contemplation of lost bodies in radical criticism implicates our ties to others, as well as the relational ties to others implicit in any political sense of community. In turn, this suggests a more sophisticated account of political subjectivity, as well as a potential reparation of the concept of a political self for radical criticism.

Keywords: Memorial aesthetics; mourning; finitude; subjectivity; Shakespeare; cultural materialism.




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