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Satire, Satyrs, and Early Modern Masculinities in John Marston’s The Scourge of Villanie
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2469-6431
2015 (English)In: Allusions and Reflections: Greek and Roman Mythology in Renaissance Europe / [ed] Elisabeth Wåghäll Nivre mfl, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015, p. 171-185Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is frequently pointed out that ”satire” in the English Renaissance was thought to relate to “satyr”, and “satyr play”. Until Isaac Casaubon pointed out in 1605 that the term was derived from “satira” and hence referred to a more subtle and civilized mode of expression, early modern English satire was characterized by strong social commentary and direct verbal attacks, especially so in the social and cultural upheaval of the 1590s. However, the confusion of satire and satyr also offered a rich field of exploration of ideas of gender, and I argue in the present paper that verse satire such as John Marston’s in The Scourge of Villanie (1598) utilizes the contaminated genre definition to explore notions of masculinity. Moreover, Marston’s satire on the effeminate manners of courtiers thematizes masculinity – or the lack thereof – as a challenge of political orthodoxy. By representing the targets of his attacks as oversexualized (not only through the “satyr” subtext but in frequent mention of the phallic god Priapus), Marston draws on the conventional idea that sexual over-indulgence leads to effeminacy. At the same time, his satirical representation of the vices of his time through a negotiation of classical patterns in effect challenges conventional taste to such an extent that masculinity per se becomes open to debate. In other words, classical culture did not offer a sure-fire corrective to depravity but a means of questioning current gender norms, in political as well as literary terms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. p. 171-185
Keywords [en]
Satire, satyr, masculinity, early modern, John Marston, The Scourge of Villanie
National Category
Humanities General Literature Studies
Research subject
Humanities, English literature; Humanities, Comparative literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-42392ISBN: 1-4438-7454-X (print)ISBN: 978-1-4438-7454-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-42392DiVA, id: diva2:805391
Available from: 2015-04-15 Created: 2015-04-15 Last updated: 2015-06-08Bibliographically approved

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Sivefors, Per

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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