Early Modern Cultural Studies 1500–1700

Memories of War in Early Modern England

Armor and Militant Nostalgia in Marlowe, Sidney, and Shakespeare

Authors: Harlan, Susan

  • Provides a compelling argument for the need to re-think the status of armor, spoils, and trophies in relation to early modern cultural memory
  • Turns to visual culture with a level of attentiveness to detail that is unprecedented in prior analyses of early modern military texts 
  • Deploys a breadth of critical perspectives by relevant early modern scholars such as Peter Stallybrass, Jonathan Gil Harris, and Heather James, as well as theorists like Derrida and Benjamin.
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  • ISBN 978-1-137-58012-2
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Hardcover $109.99
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  • ISBN 978-1-137-58849-4
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Softcover $109.99
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  • ISBN 978-1-349-95467-4
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About this book

This book examines literary depictions of the construction and destruction of the armored male body in combat in relation to early modern English understandings of the past. Bringing together the fields of material culture and militarism, Susan Harlan argues that the notion of “spoiling” – or the sanctioned theft of the arms and armor of the vanquished in battle – provides a way of thinking about England’s relationship to its violent cultural inheritance. She demonstrates how writers reconstituted the spoils of antiquity and the Middle Ages in an imagined military struggle between male bodies. An analysis of scenes of arming and disarming across texts by Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare and tributes to Sir Philip Sidney reveals a pervasive militant nostalgia: a cultural fascination with moribund models and technologies of war. Readers will not only gain a better understanding of humanism but also a new way of thinking about violence and cultural production in Renaissance England.

About the authors

Susan E. Harlan is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Wake Forest University, USA.

Reviews

Memories of War in Early Modern England is cultural criticism of the highest order. Harlan’s critical and thoroughly researched engagement with military clothing, cultural memory, and masculine violence sheds much needed light on neglected areas of early modern literary history and memory studies. Scholars and students of Renaissance drama, and of elegiac poetics especially, will be rewarded by Harlan’s rich trove of insights. Harlan interrogates with clarity and admirable scholarly rigor the imagined communities through which early modern England figured its national past and invested its present. This is a sophisticated and important contribution to historicized studies of material culture, most notably as regards nostalgia, counter-memory, and forgetfulness in Elizabethan England.” (William E. Engel, Nick B. Williams Professor of English, Sewanee University, USA)

“Beautifully written, Susan Harlan’s book offers a powerful, yet nuanced, account of the martial materials from which historical memory was constructed in early modern England. While much scholarship on warfare and memory has tended to focus on Elizabethan England and its relatively recent past, Harlan is more ambitious in her temporal concerns and far more attuned than most to the polytemporalities of the objects she examines.” (Patricia Cahill, Associate Professor of English, Emory University, USA)

“Susan Harlan's book joins a spate of recent studies (e.g., Simon Barker, Patricia Cahill) that engage early modern militarism in new and refreshing ways.  Harlan makes fascinating connections among various texts and objects, and particularly establishes the militant materiality of the stage itself through theatrical properties necessary for powerful and persuasive drama.  Harlan lays the groundwork for future important historical work regarding the golden age of Elizabeth that was often less than golden for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, and pirates that had to fight the wars of the elite from at least 1585 to 1604.” (Curtis Breight, Associate Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh, USA)

“Harlan's carefully constructed investigation of the relation between masculinity, material culture, and memory should be of compelling interest to scholars involved in all these areas of study.  Her wide-ranging project not only treats dramas by Marlowe and Shakespeare but also studies the mythology of the soldier through early modern memorials of that consummate courtier, Sir Philip Sidney. This work offers insight into conceptions of masculinity derived from military paraphernalia such as armor, trophies, and spoils, items that were already becoming matter for nostalgia in the early modern period.” (Jennifer A. Low, Associate Professor of English, Florida Atlantic University, USA and author of “Manhood and the Duel: Masculinity in Early Modern Drama and Culture”)

“This book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the operations of nostalgia and the elegiac obsession with war and myth-making in early modern England. Harlan’s book studies the dramatic and textual practices of the representation of the armored male body and the sentiment of ’militant nostalgia’ as key elements of cultural-memory-making in some of the most beloved plays and other public shows from early modern London.” (Alan Shepard, President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor of English, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

  • Introduction

    Harlan, Susan

    Pages 1-27

  • Chapter 1 “Objects Fit for Tamburlaine”: Self-Arming in Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, Robert Vaughan’s Portraits, and The Almain Armourer’s Album

    Harlan, Susan

    Pages 29-84

  • Interlude–Epic Pastness: War Stories, Nostalgic Objects, and Sexual and Textual Spoils in Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage

    Harlan, Susan

    Pages 85-114

  • Chapter 2 Spoiling Sir Philip Sidney: Mourning and Military Violence in the Elegies, Lant’s Roll, and Greville’s Life of the Renowned Sir Philip Sidney

    Harlan, Susan

    Pages 115-194

  • Interlude-Scatter’d Men: Mutilated Male Bodies and Conflicting Narratives of Militant Nostalgia in Shakespeare’s Henry V

    Harlan, Susan

    Pages 195-214

Buy this book

eBook $84.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-58012-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $109.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-58849-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $109.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-349-95467-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Memories of War in Early Modern England
Book Subtitle
Armor and Militant Nostalgia in Marlowe, Sidney, and Shakespeare
Authors
Series Title
Early Modern Cultural Studies 1500–1700
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-58012-2
DOI
10.1057/978-1-137-58012-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-58849-4
Softcover ISBN
978-1-349-95467-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 317
Number of Illustrations and Tables
9 b/w illustrations
Topics