Online Publication of the South-Central Renaissance Conference

Call for Papers: John Donne Society 2015

Posted on August 9, 2014

John Donne Society
30th Anniversary Conference
Call for Papers

26–28 February 2015
The Lod and Carol Cook Conference Center
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Individual papers on any aspect of Donne’s life and work are welcome. We also welcome panels of papers addressing specific topics in Donne studies.

FULL PAPERS PREFERRED; SUBSTANTIAL ABSTRACTS CONSIDERED. (1 copy, 8-10 pages maximum, as an email Word attachment; please include your e-mail and mailing addresses in the body of the email submission).

1 September 2014

Professor Sean McDowell
University Honors Program
Seattle University

All graduate student essays accepted for presentation will be considered for the John R. Roberts Award for Best Essay by a Graduate Student.

In Memoriam: Mark J. Zucker

Posted on June 19, 2014

By Frances Malpezzi

We have belatedly learned of the death of Mark J. Zucker, J. Franklin Bayhi Alumni Professor of Art History at LSU.
He died suddenly on August 3, 2013 in Innsbruck, Austria.

From 1984 to 1994, Mark was a member of the Editorial Board of the Levy Foundation. The Foundation provided generous financial support for Explorations in Renaissance Culture  during Bert Fields’s editorship. The Editorial Board advised and did peer reviews for EIRC and for the Foundation’s Explorations. From 1995 on Mark was Associate Art Editor for EIRC.  Mark’s work for the journal was invaluable. He read every art history submission and provided thorough and detailed comments. Moreover, he could always be relied upon for sound advice. His essay “Homeliness and Humor in Renaissance Italy:  Tales of Ugly (and Witty) Artists and Other Paragons of Ugliness,” won the 2004 Fields Award.

The Old Suitor: A New Allusion to William Shakespeare?

Posted on June 3, 2014

Discoveries 30.1 (2013)

By Michael Mooten
Independent Scholar

Another arrow out of Cupid’s quiver,
The which was carried by the winde at will

—Richard Barnfield, The Affectionate Shepherd

Richard Barnfield claimed that his controversial The Affectionate Shepherd was nothing more than a nonliteral reworking of Virgil’s second eclogue. However, many scholars believe that Barnfield’s real intention was to make a homosexual proposition to a young man (very likely an aristocratic patron of poets)1and that his statement that he was merely imitating Virgil was disingenuous (McCarthy, p. 114).

I agree with this latter conclusion and further assert that Barnfield’s work is even more nimble than it appears. I propose that 1) In 1594, Barnfield was competing against William Shakespeare for the patronage and affections of the aristocrat Henry Wriothesley. 2) The Affectionate Shepherd has propositional intent but also functions as libel targeting Shakespeare; the work contains hitherto unrecognized Shakespearean allusions. 3) In order to send his personal message, Barnfield reworked a classical Ovidian myth, inserting contemporary figures masquerading as characters, including one I name “the Old Suitor.” 4) This Old Suitor, a defamatory caricature of Shakespeare, allowed Barnfield to surreptitiously reveal his opinion ofthe famous poet and to send Wriothesley an admonitionconcerning Shakespeare’s amorous intentions. Continue reading →

Feminist Struggle in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew

Posted on February 1, 2014

Discoveries 30.1 (2013)

By Brian Brooks
Oklahoma State University

Audiences have historically found something both abhorrent and endearing in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (1593­–94).[1] Seeing Katherina tamed by Petruchio, according to modern sensibilities, is offensive. Conversely, seeing Katherina and Petruchio fall in love is uplifting. While many see this play as anti-feminist—Phyllis Rackin calls the play “crudely misogynist” (53) and Linda Woodbridge says she “find[s] it hard to regard [Shrew] as much of an improvement over the . . . shrew-taming tradition” (206)—other readers have considered it feminist, not in the twentieth-century sense, but as a general contribution to the advancement of women (see below).  Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew lays out both sides of the Renaissance debate over women—as do other contemporary texts. Shrew makes an unclear statement about how women should be treated, just as do other Renaissance texts, reflecting anxiety about women’s status in the English Renaissance. Continue reading →

Barberini Political Identity and Utilitarian Architecture in the Rome of Urban VIII

Posted on December 8, 2012

Discoveries 29.1 (2012)

By Matthew K. Averett
Creighton University[1]

Seventeenth-century Venetian observers in Rome noted of Pope Urban VIII Barberini (r. 1623–44) that he possessed a “hunger for glory” and a determination to follow any course that “could raise his name in public opinion and make it famous in the future.”[2] Urban’s family, the Barberini, were one of the most important early-modern papal families and their leadership of Rome is instructive of papal politics at that time. Volumes have been written on Urban and his family, and their heraldic bees swarm over Rome.[3] Urban reigned for twenty-one years and during this extended period, Urban guided the papacy through events as diverse as the Thirty Years’ War and the Galileo affair. The Barberini systematically patronized the sciences, theater, music, and poetry, and established one of Rome’s greatest libraries.[4] Urban and his three powerful nephews, Cardinal Francesco, Don Taddeo, and Cardinal Antonio, ushered in a period of fantastic artistic patronage, outrageous nepotism, and shocking political excesses.

Under the family’s watch, the visual arts in Rome experienced the glittering High Baroque, boasting the masterpieces of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Pietro da Cortona, and Francesco Borromini. While examinations of the high art sponsored by Urban and the Barberini family proliferate, there are relatively few studies of their more mundane architecture. This brief article addresses this lacuna, contributing to our understanding of the role architecture played in the creation of political identity in seventeenth-century Rome.[5] I focus on utilitarian architecture in Rome, including aqueducts, fountains, roads, and industrial works; I mention only in passing Urban’s military architecture, such as his improvements to the Castel Sant’ Angelo and Rome’s circuit of defensive walls along the crest of the Janiculum. This discussion of utilitarian architecture will be bookended by two works displaying inscriptions that contribute to the construction of Urban’s identity as steward of the city: a monument to Urban in the Church of Santa Maria Aracoeli and the Fountain of the Bees in Piazza Barberini.

Continue reading →

Willam R. Levin publishes new article

Posted on August 18, 2012

SCRC member William R. Levin, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Centre College, has published “Il Mantello della virtù in un affresco della Misericordia: Guida pratica di filantropia” in the Italian journal San Sebastiano, anno 64, no. 252 (July-September 2012), pp. 34-36.

(Links to the journal and article can be found after the abstract.)


While hardly unfamiliar to scholars of late-medieval Italian art, the frescoed Allegory of Mercy in Florence’s Museo del Bigallo, painted for the Confraternity of Santa Maria della Misericordia in 1342, is an often overlooked masterpiece of didactic art.  Continue reading →

Kyd’s Use of the Axiochus in The Spanish Tragedy

Posted on July 26, 2012

Discoveries 29.1 (2012)

By Frank Ardolino
University of Hawaii

Kyd’s description of the underworld justice system in The Spanish Tragedy is influenced by the afterworld depicted in book six of Virgil’s Aeneid and in the pseudo-Platonic dialogue Axiochus. Eugene Hill (148-51) has traced Kyd’s debt to Virgil, but no critic has analyzed Kyd’s use of the Axiochus and its effect on the interpretation of Hieronimo’s moral status as a revenge figure. The soul-body dichotomy is central to the dialogue, and it is used by Kyd in the opening lines of the play. Secondly, the dialogue refers specifically to descents by Bacchus and Hercules which resulted in Eleusinian initiation through the encounter with Proserpine. Kyd adapts this motif in having Andrea meet with Proserpine who sends him back to earth to witness the mystery play, which will provide his initiation into the nature of the just revenge operating in the play. Virgil does not emphasize a meeting with Proserpine, nor does he overtly frame Aeneas’s descent as a mystery rite, and, finally, he does not have Aeneas subjected to an underworld judgment concerning his moral status.

Continue reading →

Rome Prize Competition, 2012–2013

Posted on July 20, 2012

American Academy in Rome
Rome Prize 2013

Competition Deadline: 1 November 2012
Extended Deadline: 15 November 2012*

The American Academy in Rome invites applications for the Rome Prize competition. One of the leading overseas centers for independent study and advanced research in the arts and the humanities, the Academy offers up to thirty fellowships for periods ranging from six months to two years.

Rome Prize winners reside at the Academy’s eleven-acre center in Rome and receive room and board, a study or studio, and a stipend.  Stipends for six-month fellowships are $14,500 and stipends for eleven-month fellowships are $27,000.

Fellowships are awarded in the following fields:

Design (including graphic, fashion, interior, lighting, and set design, engineering, urban planning, and other related design fields)
Historic Preservation and Conservation (including architectural design, public policy, and the conservation of works of art)
Landscape Architecture
Musical Composition
Visual Arts
Ancient Studies
Medieval Studies
Renaissance and Early Modern Studies
Modern Italian Studies

For further information, or to apply, visit the Academy’s website at or contact the American Academy in Rome, 7 East 60 Street, New York, NY 10022, Attn: Programs.

212-751-7200, or

Please state specific field of interest when requesting information.

The Rome Prize competition is underwritten in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

*There is an extra fee for the later application date.
**The Rome Prize in Literature is by nomination of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Review: Masculinity and Marian Efficacy in Shakespeare’s England, by Ruben Espinosa

Posted on July 2, 2012

Discoveries 29.1 (2012). 2 July 2012

Masculinity and Marian Efficacy in Shakespeare’s England. By Ruben Espinosa. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011. Pp. xii + 194. $84.83 cloth.

Reviewed by Sean Benson
University of Dubuque

Ruben Espinosa asserts that Shakespeare “infuse[s] his theater” with a “Marian efficacy that is profoundly substantial” (171), a claim that he substantiates in part. He argues that Shakespeare examines “phallocentric” masculinity, finds it wanting, and offers an alternative to it in Mary’s feminine strength and intercessory power—what he calls “efficacy.” The book, as he acknowledges, is a revision of his dissertation. On the good side, Espinosa marshals copious evidence for almost every substantive point he makes. Yet there is too much; the sources should have been winnowed down substantially. What passes for scholarly heft in a dissertation often makes for slow reading, and it would be difficult for undergraduates to sustain their attention through much of the book. Espinosa is also too dependent on a number of critics, particularly Janet Adelman and Katherine Eggert, both of whose views, because of the frequency with which he cites them, tend to subsume his own. And that’s too bad, as Espinosa does have an argument here.

Continue reading →

Othello’s Jealousy: From Textual Crux to Critical Conundrum

Posted on June 23, 2012

Discoveries 29.1 (2012). 23 June 2012

By Michael L. Hays


Discussions of Othello almost invariably recognize him as “other” in terms of gender, race, class, profession, and national origins, among others.[2]  In all of these ways, he is indeed “other.”  But, too often, when we view him as “other” in these terms, we see him as an “other” more in ways which interest us than in ways which interested, or were instinct with, his original beholders.  The result, I think, is the persistent problem of satisfactorily explaining Othello’s jealousy.

Another “other” is contemporary literature and literary traditions, those especially influential components of culture.  One such tradition embraces chivalric romances, the largest corpus of fiction writing throughout Shakespeare’s lifetime and a potent contemporary influence.  We deprecate such romances, but Elizabethans did not.  The bibliographical record is the proof.  The obvious instances in the Short-Title Catalogue are the many issues of Bevis of Hampton and Guy of Warwick.[3]  The former, Shakespeare quoted in King Lear; the latter his company performed in an acting version.

Continue reading →

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