Academic journal article Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies

JEMCS Forum: What Is Early Modern?

Academic journal article Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies

JEMCS Forum: What Is Early Modern?

Article excerpt

In the preceding issue of The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, we began to publish a series of position papers coming from a variety of perspectives but all responding to the same important question, "What is Early Modern?" Before we began this series in JEMCS, we had already seen many powerful critiques of old-fashioned periodization: Jerry H. Bentley's Shapes of World History, the articles in Lawrence Besserman's collection The Challenge of Periodization, Kathleen Davis's Periodization and Sovereignty, and Eric Hayot's recent article, "Against Periodization," in New Literary History, to name only a few examples. These and other revisionist considerations of periodization have been launched by a variety of scholars seeking to bridge or resist conventional chrono-labels like "medieval," "Renaissance," and "early modern." Their work has encouraged an on-going interrogation of "early modernity," one that demands a new set of responses and tactics that would move us beyond simply questioning the old period divisions. The brief essays published here not only point out the problems posed by rigid period boundaries, but they go on to suggest and implement new ways of describing the processes of cultural mixture and transformation that occurred in the time between the fourteenth and the nineteenth centuries. This journal's commitment to cultural studies intensifies the urgency of our search for new approaches, new terminologies, and new historical methodologies that are consistent with the eclecticism, interdisciplinarity, and anti-Eurocentrism that define a cultural studies practice-one that goes beyond (or at least, beside) the study of canonical literary texts within traditional period frameworks. …

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