Shakespeare and the End of History

Period as Brand Name
Part of the Early Modern Cultural Series book series


What’ s in a period name? Had Juliet had asked the question this way, her answer could well prove satisfying to Shakespeareans today. As a group, Shakespeare critics face a similar dilemma when deciding whether what they read is “Renaissance” or “early modern” literature. For some time now, “Renaissance” has dominated the critical culture of Shakespeare studies. But its popularity and cachet do not stop there: “Renaissance” is everywhere we turn. As I write this chapter, in fact, the current telephone book in Austin, Texas, lists more than a dozen “Renaissance” businesses—firms or institutions, that is, that call themselves “Renaissance__________.” These concerns include a computer store, a women’s hospital, a hotel, a builder, a senior living community and beauty shop, a glass company, and a pest control service (this last perhaps an ironic match for a word that promises rebirth). In this context, “Renaissance” is an all-purpose modifier that seems to assure us of the quality of services rendered. A business using “Renaissance” in its name—for instance, “Renaissance Stone Design”—shares a family resemblance with “Prestige Roofing,” “Deluxe Carpet Cleaners,” “Classic Pizza,” and “Elite Electrolysis and Waxing,” all listed in the same telephone book.


Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Literary Criticism Arabic Numeral Academic Writing 
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© Douglas Bruster 2003

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