Culture of Accidents: Unexpected Knowledges in Early Modern England

Stanford University Press, 1 de set. 2002 - 240 pàgines

Collapsing buildings, unexpected meetings in the marketplace, monstrous births, encounters with pirates at sea—these and other unforeseen “accidents” at the turn of the seventeenth century in England acquired unprecedented significance in the early modern philosophical and cultural imagination. Drawing on intellectual history, cultural criticism, and rhetorical theory, this book chronicles the narrative transformation of “accident” from a philosophical dead end to an astonishing occasion for revelation and wonder in early modern religious life, dramatic practice, and experimental philosophy.

Embracing the notion that accident was a concept with both learned and popular appeal, the book traces its evolution through Aristotelian, Scholastic, and Calvinist thought into a range of early modern texts. It suggests that for many English writers, accidental events raised fundamental questions about the nature of order in the world and the way that order should be apprehended.

Alongside texts by such canonical figures as Shakespeare and Bacon, this study draws on several lesser-known authors of sensational news accounts about accidents that occurred around the turn of the seventeenth century. The result is a cultural anatomy of accidents as philosophical problem, theatrical conceit, spiritual landmark, and even a prototype for Baconian “experiment,” one that provides a fresh interpretation of the early modern engagement with contingency in intellectual and cultural terms.

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Early Modern Accidents and an Aristotelian Tradition
Exemplary Accidents from Cicero to Jean Calvin
The Avoidance of Ends in The Comedy of Errors
Hamlet Interrupted
Accident and the Invention of Knowledge in Francis
The Blackfriars Accident

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Passatges populars

Pàgina 17 - And let me speak, to the yet unknowing world, How these things came about: So shall you hear Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts; Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters; Of deaths put on by cunning, and forc'd cause ; And, in this upshot, purposes mistook Fall'n on the inventors' heads: all this can I Truly deliver.
Pàgina 86 - Ham. Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting That would not let me sleep; methought I lay Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly, And praised be rashness for it, — Let us know, Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well, When our deep plots do pall ; and that should teach us, There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will.
Pàgina 82 - Thus CONSCIENCE does make COWARDS of us all And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought And enterprises of great pith and moment With this regard their currents turn away And lose the name of ACTIOK.
Pàgina 87 - I do repent : but heaven hath pleased it so, To punish me with this, and this with me, That I must be their scourge and minister.
Pàgina 40 - Tragedy, however, is an imitation not only of a complete action, but also of incidents arousing pity and fear. Such incidents have the very greatest effect on the mind when they occur unexpectedly and at the same time in consequence of one another.
Pàgina 31 - The end and the means towards it may come about by chance. We say, for instance, that a stranger has come by chance, paid the ransom, and gone away, when he does so as if he had come for that purpose, though it was not for that that he came. This is incidental, for chance is an incidental cause, as I remarked before.
Pàgina 40 - There is more of the marvellous in them then than if they happened of themselves or by mere chance. Even matters of chance seem most marvellous if there is an appearance of design as it were in them; as for instance the statue of Mitys at Argos killed the author of Mitys...
Pàgina 198 - ... so no doubt the philosopher with his learned definition - be it of virtue, vices, matters of public policy or private government - replenisheth the memory with many infallible grounds of wisdom, which, notwithstanding, lie dark before the imaginative and judging power, if they be not illuminated or figured forth by the speaking picture of poesy.
Pàgina 207 - AN HISTORICAL COLLECTION, of the most Memorable Accidents, and Tragicall Massacres of France, under the Raignes of Henry 2, Francis 2, Charles 9, Henry 3, Henry 4 now living.

Sobre l'autor (2002)

Michael Witmore is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

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