Literature and Moral Economy in the Early Modern Atlantic : Elegant Sufficiencies book cover
1st Edition

Literature and Moral Economy in the Early Modern Atlantic
Elegant Sufficiencies

ISBN 9780367882365
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
242 Pages

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Book Description

Grounded in the literary history of early modern England, this study explores the intersection of cultural attitudes and material practices that shape the acquisition, circulation, and consumption of resources at the turn of the seventeenth century. Considering a formally diverse and ideologically rich array of texts from the period - including drama, poetry, and prose, as well as travel narrative and early modern political and literary theory - this book shows how ideas about what is considered 'enough' adapt to changing material conditions and how cultural forces shape those adaptations. Literature and Moral Economy in the Early Modern Atlantic traces how early modern English authors improvised new models of sufficiency that pushed back the threshold of excess to the frontier of the known world itself. The book argues that standards of economic sufficiency as expressed through literature moved from subsistence toward the increasing pursuit of plenty through plunder, trade, and plantation. Author Hillary Eklund describes what it means to have enough in the moral economies of eating, travel, trade, land use and public policy.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Movement: Liquid agencies in Thomas Heywood's The Fair Maid of the West. Privation and policy in Shakespeare's 2 Henry VI and Coriolanus.  Part 2 Improvement: Tempering temperance in Book II of The Faerie Queene.  'Expedient manage must be made': kingship and husbandry in Richard II. Part III Government: 'So great was our famine': managing plenty in Virginia.  Epilogue: satis sufficit.

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Hillary Eklund is Assistant Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans, where she teaches courses on Shakespeare, Renaissance Literature, and the early modern Atlantic.


'The reader is guided to discover the connections between colonial government and profit-seeking back in England, between discourses of bodily humors and circulation of resources, and between national territorial disputes and notions of agrarian management. Harnessing Aristotle, Xenophon, and early moderns such as Erasmus or Elizabeth I in order to examine the shifting valence of "sufficiency," Eklund grounds her argument in the rich vocabulary of the day, proving how modes of discourse not only reflect but help to shape thinking about economic "progress" in the period.' Jill P. Ingram, Ohio University, USA