"Daring to Pry into the Privy Chamber of Heaven": Early Modern Mock-Almanacs and the Virtues of Ignorance

"Daring to Pry into the Privy Chamber of Heaven": Early Modern Mock-Almanacs and the Virtues of... <p>Abstract:</p><p>In the early seventeenth century, playwrights such as Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton composed mock-almanacs. These texts aimed to undermine the contemporary fascination with almanacs and the astrological determinism housed in such directive texts. Pushing against the idea that knowledge of one&apos;s body, the future, and the stability of the nation-state can be articulated in a single, calendrical text, mock-almanac authors instead adopted a position of playful ignorance as a means for counteracting the hubris of the new science of the period. This essay contextualizes the growing interest in and critique of astrology and looks to how literary authors responded to this phenomenon in print. The mock-almanac is a unique genre, participating in the culture of audience response to scientific understanding while at the same time undermining the means through which readers and audiences encountered such a proliferation of totalizing narratives in celestial influence. In arguing for a serious consideration of the virtues of ignorance in these satiric texts, this article highlights the critical distance between our modern sensibilities and the state of purposeful unknowing espoused in the jest pamphlet culture of the period.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

"Daring to Pry into the Privy Chamber of Heaven": Early Modern Mock-Almanacs and the Virtues of Ignorance

Studies in Philology, Volume 115 (1) – Jan 9, 2018

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>In the early seventeenth century, playwrights such as Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton composed mock-almanacs. These texts aimed to undermine the contemporary fascination with almanacs and the astrological determinism housed in such directive texts. Pushing against the idea that knowledge of one&apos;s body, the future, and the stability of the nation-state can be articulated in a single, calendrical text, mock-almanac authors instead adopted a position of playful ignorance as a means for counteracting the hubris of the new science of the period. This essay contextualizes the growing interest in and critique of astrology and looks to how literary authors responded to this phenomenon in print. The mock-almanac is a unique genre, participating in the culture of audience response to scientific understanding while at the same time undermining the means through which readers and audiences encountered such a proliferation of totalizing narratives in celestial influence. In arguing for a serious consideration of the virtues of ignorance in these satiric texts, this article highlights the critical distance between our modern sensibilities and the state of purposeful unknowing espoused in the jest pamphlet culture of the period.</p>

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 9, 2018

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