Department of English

"Closed Fist, Open Palm, Empty Glove: Indecorous Thinking in Sidney's Arcadia"

Wed, February 27, 2013 | PAR 203

5:00 PM

Free and open to the public.  Colleen Rosenfeld talk, "Closed Fist, Open Palm, Empty Glove: Indecorous Thinking in Sidney's Arcadia" on Wednesday, 27 February 2013, at 5 pm in PAR 203.

About "Closed Fist, Open Palm, Empty Glove: Indecorous Thinking in Sidney's Arcadia"

Early modern teachers routinely deployed the following comparison, originally attributed to Zeno and most frequently cited from Cicero's Orator, to distinguish between the arts of rhetoric and dialectic: dialectic, the saying goes, is like the clenched fist because it is the art with which you sock your listener in the face; rhetoric, by contrast, is like the open palm because it is the art with which you gently caress your listener.  Defeat by open palm looks less like a knockout punch and more like invasion of the body snatchers: the listener becomes a like-minded, like-feeling double for the speaker.  This talk considers the Arcadia's variant on this commonplace image—the art of which it was an emblem, the paradigm of composition characteristic of this art, and the social consequences of practicing this art.  I will examine the empty glove, to which Dorus sings his song in Book 3 of the Old Arcadia, as the emblem of an indecorous art dedicated to sheer (or mere) eloquence.  Against the social and aesthetic imperatives of sprezzatura, this talk will argue for the value of a clumsy, klutzy, awkward poetics.

About Colleen Rosenfeld

Colleen Ruth Rosenfeld is an Assistant Professer in the English Department at Pomona College.  She received her Ph.D. in English from Rutgers University and her B.A. from Reed College.  Her book project, Indecorous Thinking: Poetic Figures and the Production of Knowledge in Early Modern England, is a study of figures of speech and a defense of eloquence - not as a sign of the aesthetic but as the source of a particular kind of knowledge closely aligned with the emergent field of vernacular poesie.  Her essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from ELH, English Literary Renaissance, and Modern Philology.


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