The Subtext of Form in the English Renaissance

Proportion Poetical

By (author) S. K. Heninger

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

15 September 1994

Length of book:

224 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271027340

During the sixteenth century in England the logocentrism of the Middle Ages was confronted by a materialism that heralded the modern world. With remarkable tenacity in music, poetry, and painting, the orthodox aesthetic persisted as formal features which served as nonverbal signs and provided a subtext of form. In opposition, however, a radical aesthetic emerged to accommodate the new attention to physical nature. The growing force of materialism occasioned a fundamental rethinking of what an artifact might represent and how that representation might be achieved. This book explores the ontological and epistemological issues that poststructuralist thought raises about that shift in our cultural history. In doing so, it charts a course for Renaissance studies, now in disarray, that avoids the old positivism while not succumbing to the new nihilism.

“This is a work of seminal importance in educating scholars on how to perceive art in any medium precisely because Heninger provides a successful methodology for understanding what lies behind the apparent content of texts and images. The book is highly original in advancing new theories, analyzing specific art works as well as synthesizing the gamut of conventional and avant-garde wisdom. One has the sense of having finally understood what texts and visual arts have in common, even and especially across geographical boundaries (Italy and England).”

—Charles H. Carman, State University of New York, Buffalo