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Epilogue: H Is for Humanism

Epilogue: H Is for Humanism

Chapter:
(p.283) Epilogue: H Is for Humanism
Source:
Renaissance Posthumanism
Author(s):
Joseph Campana
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823269556.003.0010

H is for Humanism” considers that purportedly quintessential figure of humanity—the child. Not only was this figure (the focus of so much humanist concern and, consequently, pedagogy) not precisely human in the Renaissance, but more profoundly, the child demonstrates a quality we might call plasticity. Turning to the venerable trope of the mirror, this chapter discovers in a series of troubled mirror moments a cascade failure of intelligibility of the human focalized on the child who has the all-too human capacity to infinitely mirror others. Thus, in a range of texts, from Juan Luis Vives’s A Fable About Man to Will Rankin’s anti-theatrical screed A Mirrour for Monsters to William Shakespeare’s metatheatrical Hamlet, where a figure of man not only defies definition but seems to exist without positive attributes of his own, the frequently privative accounts of humanity in the Renaissance are indices of an interest in a kind of radical plasticity exemplified by the child.

Keywords:   Chapman, children, Hamlet, humanism, humanity, mirror, Will Rankin, Shakespeare, Juan Luis Vives

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