Catherine Bates

Position title: Solmsen Fellow (2014-2015)

English and Comparative Literature, University of Warwick

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Perversion in Arcadia

This project explores the multiple delinquencies of Philip Sidney’s multi-versioned romance, the Arcadia (c.1581-1584), in order to scope a broadly de-idealist reading of his poetry and prose. Of particular focus is the question of emotional and political governance—what might be called an “economy” of the passions—and ways in which, testing to the limit the rationalist models of self-government available at the time, the delinquent behaviors described within the Old and New Arcadia give way to the tragic, even nihilistic vision of a negative excess or “debt” that is not to be turned to good account, redeemed, or repaid. This alternative economy is first traced in Sidney’s Defence of Poetry, where Weberian models of turning a profit compete with a fantasized “golden world” of infinite credit, effectively playing the different pleasures of accumulation and consumption against one another and so problematizing any straightforward claims to poetry’s profitability and pleasure.

Catherine Bates is a Professor of Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick. She specializes in sixteenth-century English literature: in particular, courtly forms such as epic, lyric, and romance. Her books include The Rhetoric of Courtship in Elizabethan Language and Literature (1992), Play in a Godless World: The Theory and Practice of Play in Shakespeare, Nietzsche, and Freud (1999), Masculinity, Gender and Identity in the English Renaissance Lyric (2007), and Masculinity and the Hunt: Wyatt to Spenser (2013). She is also currently editing the Blackwell Companion to Renaissance Poetry. She has previously held positions at Oxford (1987-1990) and Cambridge (1990-1995), and has been at the University of Warwick since 1995. She served as Head of the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies there from 2009 to 2014. She is at work on a book entitled Perversion in Arcadia.