One of the foremost figures in Renaissance studies today, Stephen Greenblatt is also a pioneer of the "new historicism"--the influential theoretical movement in cultural criticism that is radically refashioning the study of the humanities.
Learning to Curse combines historical and anthropological techniques with rigorous textual analysis and vivid writing. Greenblatt produces imaginative and often disturbing new approaches to issues and authors which once seemed comfortably familiar. By focusing on such problems as the relationship between cultural identity and otherness in early modern culture; the uses of violence--both physical and rhetorical--against those identified as aliens; and the role of the imagination in efforts to shape and stabilize both cultural and personal identity, Learning to Curse exposes a Renaissance world made challenging and strange, forcing the reader to develop new ways of seeing and understanding.
"The intelligence at work in these essays is alert, imaginative." -- New York Review of Books
"This is a wide-ranging book with an enormous frame of literary and historical reference, and there are few subjects on which Greenblatt is less than fascinating." -- San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle