“Lo, Ye All Englishmen”
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The first two chapters show the process whereby early modern writers from anatomists to playwrights fashion a conception of heroic autonomy by presenting conquest of the body—in the form of anatomizing the corpse or in the form of bodily fortitude—as a kind of combat. This process transforms medieval forms of combat to produce individual autonomy as the basis of early modern selfhood and England as an imperial power. However, relying as these authors do on premodern models of combat, these texts bear the traces of premodern notions of self that persist and are implicit in the production of early modern English notions of self and nation. The dominance of humanist ideals of selfhood and imperial notions of nation have obscured both the violence at their foundations and an alternative genealogy of self and nation that relies on native English, rather than continental texts and on premodern ideas of body and combat. Claiming it as an early modern English text, this chapter reads Malory’s Morte D’Arthur as presenting both a well-defined picture of premodern subjectivity and the consequences of the intellectual changes that help develop the concept of the autonomous, humanist subject.
KeywordsSocial Identity Gender Identity Social Order Physical Reality Round Table
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