To become familiar with library research tools
THIS CLASS MEETS IN THE LIBRARY -- ROOM 209
While the class will be spent on library orientation, please take the opportunity to read
the second chapter of Sawday for this date. Posts should be written on that text and the following
questions. We will discuss these and more on Thursday.
Notes and Discussion Questions:
1. Sawday, Chapter Two
Please note that the figures Sawday refers to in the chapter are included at the end of the PDF.
In this chapter, Sawday explains a shift in the language used to describe (and hence to understand) the body that
occurs in the seventeenth century. Prior to the scientific explorations of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, he
claims, the body could not be understood apart from the soul, anima, or thinking entity it housed. In this view, the body is
at war with the soul, and Sawday discusses several poems that reflect this language of representation. Characteristic
of this language is the image of the body as America or terra incognita and the language of discovery and geographical mapping.
After the theories of Descartes begin to permeate English culture, the dominant language used to describe the body shifts
to that of a machine. Hence the body in an ideal sense can be known and rendered unfrightening. The ideal, however, is
seldom reached and the taboo against seeing the interior of the body remains powerful.
In this chapter, Sawday suggests that as a by product of anatomy and the discoveries of the internal workings of the
body, a new confrontation takes place between the classical body (elite, contained, external, high culture) and the grotesque
body (low, rabble uncontained, potentially rebellious). This confrontation is also seen in the political uses of the body
metaphor. Why would this be appropriate in an age of civil war and republican revolution?
Comment on Sawday's reading of Donne's poem "The Extasie" (p. 20). Is this a helpful reading? Why or why not?
Comment on Sawday's reading of Marvell's poem "Dialogue between the Soul and Body" (p. 21). In what ways does this help
to clarify the battle between the body and soul that characterizes seventeenth-century discourse?
Sawday writes: "Imitation, a central concept in Renaissance poetic theory, orders the body, the world, and the heavens
into a pattern of replication, in which each component of the system finds its precise analogical equivalent in every
other component.... It is probably not an over-statement to say that this vista of similarity lay at the very heart of
every intellectual endeavour of early-modern culture, informing art, architecture, philosophy, theology, natural
philosophy, and in particular poetry. Within this world the body lay entangled within a web of enclosing patterns
of repetition" (23). What evidence can you find for this central concept in the works we are reading (or discussed in Sawday)?
How might this analogy between the universe and the body be undermined by scientific investigations into the body? See
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