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Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral

International Perspectives

Edited By Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd, Charles Holdefer and Thomas Pughe

In a time of global environmental crisis, pastoralism may seem beside the point. Yet pastoral ideals are still alive even though they often manifest themselves by ironic indirection. What can the pastoral tradition teach us about our ties to particular places?
The contributors to this volume attempt to lay the groundwork for the ongoing concern with pastoral and with its critical revision.
This volume brings together new essays that focus on painting, photography, poetry, essay, fiction and film, from the Renaissance to the present. They also take into account an astonishing variety of pastoral places, in Europe, Africa, and North America; country and city; suburbia and industrial zones.
Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral is not only about reassessing the past, but also provides a sense of future developments as the pastoral reinvents itself for the 21 st century.
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The Quest for Arcadia in Philip Sidney’s Arcadia(s) and Mary Wroth’s Urania

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Among the numerous English pastoral works of the early modern period, the romances of Philip Sidney and his niece Mary Wroth provide an interesting framework for the study of place in pastoral. They authored two of the most important pastoral romances in the period. Sidney’s The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia (written in the 1580s, first published in 1590) was one of the bestsellers of the time. It went through an astonishing thirteen editions between 1590 and 1674. It was quoted and imitated by an impressive number of writers throughout the seventeenth century, notably by Sidney’s own niece, Mary Wroth, who was the first Englishwoman to publish a prose romance, The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, in 1621.

As the similarity in the titles and many other examples inside the romance show, Wroth deliberately modelled her Urania after her uncle’s Arcadia. The title-page of Urania shows that Wroth viewed herself as Sidney’s literary heir. Her treatment of pastoral place owes much to her uncle’s work, but also differs from it in several ways. Sidney and Wroth not only display intriguing similarities in their respective uses of pastoral space, but also noteworthy differences which testify to their own individual poetics. Both of them challenged the traditional representation of the pastoral setting as the locus amoenus. In doing so, Sidney and Wroth questioned the connection between the definition of pastoral as a literary mode and its location in a specific place. In their romances, Arcadia is not only the appropriate...

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