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Department of English Language and Literature pres.

Jean Feerick Lecture

“[R]enew I could not”: Timon of Athens, Principles of Exchange, and Nature’s “conflicting elements”

Jean Feerick (John Carroll University) will deliver a public lecture.

Abstract: This talk will consider a tendency among Shakespeare and his contemporaries to connect principles of economy or exchange to elemental cosmology and the material world. Where moderns have come to think of economic principles as deriving from political and social formations, this talk will unpack a Renaissance ethos that connected these processes instead to the natural world. How, I will explore, do theories of “borrowing” and “transmutation” in nature shape how Timon conceives of proper human economies? Is the “conversion” of one thing into another – what Timon identifies as “borrowing” or “stealing” -- a fundamental property of the natural world? Is Timon’s excessive form of giving a violent repudiation of natural principles of exchange? What, if any, human forms of exchange are patterned after nature? My reading will direct attention to the complex entanglements of human and natural realms staged by the play, and will unpack the links between Athens’ moneyed economy and the transactions that forge both wilderness and cosmos.
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