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TSE  March 2013

TSE March 2013

Subject:

FW: [Milton-L] Fictions of Conversion

From:

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sun, 10 Mar 2013 11:38:44 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (162 lines)

This might interest those interested in Eliot's various transformations.

Carrol

-----Original Message-----
From: [log in to unmask]
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Shoulson, Jeffrey
Sent: Friday, March 08, 2013 9:49 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fictions of Conversion

Marvell's on the margins of a lot the material, Matthew, but I don't address
him directly, other than a brief glance at "To His Coy Mistress."

In general, I deal less with writers who have undergone conversions
themselves (Ben Jonson and Donne are the exception) than I do with writings
about conversion.

If you are interested, though, Molly Murray's Poetics of Conversion, which
came out a couple of years ago, takes up these matters more directly.  I
think she may have some things on Marvell there.

Best,

Jeffrey

On Mar 8, 2013, at 10:12 AM, Matthew Jordan wrote:

Anything about Marvell? It's a LONG time since I was teaching; but isn't
Marvell supposed by some to have undergone a conversion to Catholicism and
then a rapid reconversion (part of my memory insists it was after being
embarrassed in a bookseller's). Sorry to all if this is off-piste . . .


On 8 March 2013 15:06, Shoulson, Jeffrey
<[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
Dear Colleagues,

Please pardon this bit of self-promotion.

I am delighted to announce that my book, Fictions of Conversion:  Jews,
Christians, and Cultures of Change in Early Modern England, is available
this month from the University of Pennsylvania Press, as well as the usual
book-selling sites.

http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15101.html

The book examines how the phenomenon of religious change in post-Reformation
England, and the anxieties such rapid and occasionally recursive
transformations elicited, were frequently mapped onto conceptions of Jews
and Jewishness during the period.  I propose that English cultural
expression is permeated by "fictions of conversion," in which conversion is
not only the means through which to understand the fitful progression of
English religious and ecclesiastical history; rather, these fictions of
conversion serve as a nexus for the negotiations of various other kinds of
change.  Conversion becomes a means through which certain technologies of
transformation--translation, alchemy, and enthusiasm--are figured.  Situated
at the hinge point of change, the converted/converting/unconvertable Jew
repeatedly surfaces as a figure for the fraught tension between old and new,
continuity and rupture, that is at the center of early modern English
cultures of change.

Chapter 1, "'The Jews Perverted and the Gentiles Converted': Confessions and
Conversos," reads a range of writing about conversion and confessional
difference from the period for ways in which such texts assimilate--and
convert--a language of authentic and inauthentic religious transformation
taken from the discourse of Judaism and marranism.

Chapter 2, "'Thy People Shall Be My People':  Typology, Gender, and Biblical
Converts," examines the exegetical and sermonic literature on the four most
commonly cited Old Testament converts, Jethro, Rahab, Ruth, and Naaman,
demonstrating that the conversions of the two female characters function far
more ambivalently as displacements of Israel-of-the-flesh by
Israel-of-the-spirit than do the conversions of their male counterparts.

Chapter 3, "'The Meaning, Not the Name I Call':  Converting the Bible and
Homer," considers the concurrent appearance of seminal texts that were
converted from their original languages, the King James Version of the Bible
and Chapman's complete translation of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, focusing on
the particular challenges posed by the translation/conversion of names,
which both convey meanings and function to signal irreducible particularity
and difference.

Chapter 4, "Alchemies of Conversion:  Shakespeare, Jonson, Vaughan, and the
Science of Jewish Transformation," examines the striking resurgence of
interest in alchemy, the science of change, during the 16th and 17th
centuries.  I am particularly concerned in this chapter with how alchemy was
understood as a Jewish science and served to figure the disruptive effects
of change in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice," Ben Jonson's "The
Alchemist," and Henry Vaughan's poetry.

Chapter 5, "Conversion and Enthusiasm:  Radical Religion and the Poetics of
Paradise Regained," focuses on the mid- and late seventeenth-century English
writings that address the phenomenon of religious enthusiasm as a means of
investing conceptualizations of interiority and identity.  In one final take
on the Jewish question, I suggest that Milton's late poem may be said to
depict the conversion of Jewish messianic expectations (made quite vivid by
the contemporaneous Sabbatean Movement) into Christianity's anxious
reimagining of the nature of salvation and self-transformation.

I hope you will find something of interest in the book and I would, of
course, be delighted to hear any thoughts, observations, questions, or
challenges that might arise if you have the occasion to read it.

Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey



_____________________________________________________
Jeffrey Shoulson, Ph.D.
Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies
Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life
Professor of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages and Professor of English
University of Connecticut
Thomas Dodd Research Center
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs, CT 06269

Tel:  860-486-2271
Fax:  860-486-6332
Mobile:  305-742-6973

http://languages.uconn.edu/faculty/details.php?id=281
http://www.judaicstudies.uconn.edu<http://www.judaicstudies.uconn.edu/>

Fictions of Conversion, out in March 2013
http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15101.html







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Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/


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