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La Force du commerce

“The Place of Show”: Commodities and the Commerce of Gazes in Ben Jonson’s Entertainment at Britain’s Burse

Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise

Résumés

Le présent article se penche sur un divertissement de Ben Jonson, Entertainment at Britain’s Burse, créé à l’occasion de l’inauguration de la bourse du commerce détenue par Robert Cecil dans The Strand au printemps 1609. Ce divertissement ne témoigne pas simplement de l’essor du commerce mondial à cette époque. Son texte constitue aussi un document précieux pour comprendre comment s’élabore une « économie des regards » qui donne aux échanges commerciaux tant de force, et aux choses une valeur ajoutée. En mettant l’accent sur la structure rhétorique du divertissement mais aussi en prêtant une attention particulière aux qualités matérielles des objets exposés, cette étude cherche à montrer que cet ambivalent divertissement jonsonien met en scène et en acte un transfert de l’autorité de l’icône (ou de l’image religieuse) vers les objets de consommation, bien qu’il nous mette aussi en garde contre leurs potentialités frauduleuses (et théâtrales).

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  • 1 The translation of the expression is her own in her article “What does Seeing and Image Mean ?”: “I (...)
  • 2 The script is part of papers having belonged to Sir Edward Conway, also known as the “Conway Papers (...)

1It is difficult to date the birth of the first modern shopping mall with certainty. Although shopping and entertainment had already coalesced in medieval markets and fairs, London’s early modern exchanges are perhaps amongst our best candidates. They qualify as early examples of “temples” of global consumerism, proto-capitalism, and entertainment. At once an emporium and “empire” of commodities, the early modern exchange testifies to shifting economies, expanding urbanism, and new consumer practices. But it does more than that: I would like to suggest that it enables the performance, through spectacle, of what French philosopher Marie-José Mondzain calls a Commerce des regards (2003), or “a commerce of gazes,”1 in the title of a book she devotes to the fundamentally economic nature of icons, and that this “commerce of gazes” lies at the heart of “the force of commerce,” even while it may undermine it at times. Focusing on an entertainment by Ben Jonson rediscovered by James Knowles in 1997 amongst the State Papers Domestic and originally performed on the occasion of the inauguration of Robert Cecil’s New Exchange in the Strand in the spring of 1609,2 I would also like to argue that the performing arts and literature do not offer mere “echoes” of what happens on the economic stage of trade: in fact, they contribute to the marvel of things and to shape things as objects in relation to subjects; they are enmeshed in a profit-making economy; they share the anxieties linked to trade such as consumer fear of adulteration and of the fraudulent; they work to perform, construct and deconstruct the contradictory impulses at work in commerce; in other words, they commerce with commerce.

  • 3 I.e., in the ancient and medieval sense of luxuria.

2Alison V. Scott’s insightful work on Jonson’s entertainment has already called attention to its “rhetoric of wonder” (“Marketing Luxury at the New Exchange”) and the ways in which it praised trade while producing a “subtext” that “encouraged consumer caution and highlighted potential risks of the developing consumer culture with which Jonson himself had fraught […] relationships” (Literature and the Idea of Luxury 173). Her discussion of the Entertainment focuses on the evolving notion of luxury. It demonstrates how Jonson signals his “fascination and disgust with exotic material goods” (“Marketing Luxury at the New Exchange” 9) and “gestures […] toward the contradictions of the space, purpose, and the language of the Exchange, which brought together but could not reconcile the censure of moralized luxury3 with the emerging drive toward the practice of luxury and in early modern society” (Literature and the Idea of Luxury 173). In what follows, more attention will be given to the material qualities of the special commodities Ben Jonson brings on stage in this theatre of objects, rather than only to their vexed moral implications. By insisting, furthermore, on the overreaching classical rhetorical structure of Jonson’s ambivalent entertainment (which has surprisingly gone unnoticed), I hope to show how, in the midst of this transitional economic moment, classical rhetoric was put at the service of a transfer of the authority of the icon to objects of trade and consumption. This rhetoric is, willingly or unwittingly, and despite the playwright’s admonitions, subservient to a whole new “economy” of wonder (rather than only a “rhetoric” of wonder), in the sense of the word “economy” defined by Mondzain, that is, “a spiritual and strategic management of the bodily operations implicated in vision” giving sway over “the visibility of the world to be governed” (“What does an Image Mean?” 309, 310) – though spirituality here is only mimicked. I will be extending the philosopher’s analysis of the “commerce of gazes” beyond “images” to material objects, which, through spectacle and the rhetoric the latter deploys, are given similar qualities to those of “images,” in the sense of “places where signs can circulate among us without interruption” (311). Heightened notice will also be given to the material qualities of the staged objects, and their anthropological value within this “commerce of gazes”.

  • 4 The City never benefited from the Burse and its rents to the extent initially projected because Gre (...)

3The New Exchange was not the first purpose-built “Bourse” or “Exchange” to open in London. As early as the 1560s Sir Thomas Gresham, a wealthy merchant who had worked in and traded with Antwerp, endeavoured to provide his city with stately an Exchange that could vie with the Dutch Handelsbeurs and Venetian Rialto, putting London on the map of the crucial merchant centres of Europe. Gresham convinced the City of London to acquire a substantial plot of land from various private owners while he covered the construction expenses. Once he and his wife died, the City of London and the Mercer’s company were to share the Burse and the rent profits.4 The three-storey building, which was completed in 1567, was built around a central courtyard and extended over a large rectangle of 165 by 135 feet. Gresham employed Flemish workers and many of the materials – the bricks in particular – were imported from Flemish coastal regions (A. Saunders 39). The lower floor was arcaded, made up of covered walks of black and white marble. It housed some 100 to 160 shops lit by windows and dormers. The seven-storey tower with bell, which could be seen and heard from a great distance, also comprised a gallery from which musicians could play. Queen Elizabeth graced the Exchange with her visit and public endorsement in 1571, officially naming the building the “Royal Exchange.”

Fig. 1: Wenceslaus Hollar, Interior view of the Royal Exchange, ca. 1647.

Fig. 1: Wenceslaus Hollar, Interior view of the Royal Exchange, ca. 1647.

Etching, 154x260mm. Museum no. 1880,0911.756.

© The Trustees of the British Museum.

In many ways, the building and venture could be seen as materializing the very idea of “commerce,” as defined by the OED (1a): “Exchange between men [and women] of the products of nature or art.” The collective if not universal and imperial potential of commerce was ultimately suggested by traders come from a wealth of foreign nations, “habited in their respective costumes, speaking in every variety of tone and language, exhibiting the most marked differences of manner and countenance” (J. Saunders 294).

4The New Exchange, built some 40 years after the Royal Exchange in 1609 after a similar model, innovated in so far as it articulated urban space and commerce in a new way. According to the retail historian, William C. Baer, it is an unprecedented illustration of one of the powers of commerce, that is, “to create a ‘central place,’ even though off-centre geographically” (Baer 30). The story of its location typifies the economic, social and religious transformations of England as an early modern Protestant mercantile nation. Its owner, Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, born into a family of builders fascinated by European Renaissance architecture, and serving James I as Lord Treasurer, had contrived the purchase of an ideally situated plot of land adjoining his own family estate giving him 200 foot frontage along the south side of the Strand, linking the Law Courts and the Royal Palace to the west with the Inns of Court and the City of London to the east. Originally the abode of the Bishop of Durham, Durham House and its lands had been acquired by Henry VIII in 1529 to serve as a residence for Anne Boleyn. In 1584 Elizabeth leased part of the land to Sir Walter Raleigh. When he received notice to quit it in 1603, Toby Matthew, Bishop of Durham, regained possession of the house (Guerci). However, in 1607, the Earl of Salisbury obtained the gatehouse and adjoining constructions building the New Exchange in the former run-down stables. This would allow him to attract clients from the wealthy residential districts that were being established in the West End, along the Strand and in Covent Garden.

Fig. 2: After Wenceslaus Hollar, View from the River Thames, with Durham House on the left [and stable roofs behind it], Salisbury House in the centre and Worcester House on the right; view as it was around 1630, 1808.

Fig. 2: After Wenceslaus Hollar, View from the River Thames, with Durham House on the left [and stable roofs behind it], Salisbury House in the centre and Worcester House on the right; view as it was around 1630, 1808.

Etching and engraving, 179x252mm. Museum no. 1880,1113.1388.

© The Trustees of the British Museum.

Lord Cecil had invested in the Virginia and East India trades and sought to promote a luxury market, erasing yet a little further than had done the Royal Exchange, the marks of labour inherent in the many objects that were to be displayed and sold there, far away from the London and international workshops where they were produced. The “Orders for the Burse” indicate that shops were to include “haberdashers of hats, haberdashers of small wares, stocking-sellers, linen-drapers, sempsters, goldsmiths or jewellers but not to work with hammer, such as sell china wares, milliners, perfumers, […] booksellers, […] such as sell pictures, maps, or prints […]” (NA SP14/49/5, my emphasis). Cecil had appealed to Inigo Jones for the design of the building’s elevation, as we can see from this drawing, which shows the influence of Serlio and Palladio (Summerson 106-107).

Fig. 3: Inigo Jones, Elevation for the New Exchange. The Provost and Fellows of Worcester College, Oxford.

Fig. 3: Inigo Jones, Elevation for the New Exchange. The Provost and Fellows of Worcester College, Oxford.

© Conway Library.

The records are not entirely reliable, but it seems that in the end Cecil only borrowed some of Jones’s ideas and settled on a somewhat more traditional style, employing Simon Basil, Surveyor of the King’s Works, as the supervising architect.

Fig. 4: John Harris, View of the front of the new Exchange, or Britain's Bourse, in the Strand. c. 1715.

Fig. 4: John Harris, View of the front of the new Exchange, or Britain's Bourse, in the Strand. c. 1715.

Etching and engraving, 178x262 mm, museum no 1880,1113.2836.

© The Trustees of the British Museum.

The New Exchange was larger than the Royal Exchange, but its stalls and shops were smaller. Cecil’s manager, Thomas Wilson, describes them as “being as it were small chests rather than shops” (my emphasis, quoted in Baer 34), a term which draws attention not only to their size, generating complaint by some shop-keepers as to the lack of storage space, but also and more importantly to their similarity with cabinets of curiosities, which often consisted in large pieces of furniture with multiple shelves and drawers rather than full rooms.

  • 5 In the MS, the entertainment has no title. It simply begins with the speech-heading, “The Key-Keepe (...)
  • 6 Thomas Platter’s inventory was reprinted and translated in Thomas Platter’s Travels in England, 159 (...)
  • 7 According to the editors of the entertainment, who base their figures on the available manuscript a (...)

5The opening ceremony took place on April 11, 1609. Cecil arranged for the king, along with the queen, Princes Henry and Charles, Princess Elizabeth, and a court diplomatic party including a Venetian ambassador, to attend. Ben Jonson’s special entertainment was written and designed to welcome the royal party that arrived via the water gate and Durham House Yard, before being greeted by one of the characters of the entertainment, the “Key Keeper,”5 who led them up the stairway and into what Wilson calls in a letter to Cecil “the place of show” (quoted in Knowles, “Jonson’s Entertainment at Britain’s Burse” 115), a costly stage-like device joined by Master Jenever and probably using several stalls and the walkway. The entertainment included “loud music of cornets and such like.” As an Exchange, Britain’s Burse was not an immediate success and it appears that rather than appealing to the goods and stuffs of its first merchants, Cecil used rare and luxurious objects from his own personal collections for the set and display (Knowles, “Cecil’s Shopping Center”) as well as objects brought in by Sir Walter Cope, who was known as the owner of one of the most impressive cabinets of curiosities in Europe.6 A profusion of Italian goods was also purchased from Henry Helm and Robert Kitchen so that the display relied on liberal expenditure rather than thrifty exchange.7 The text Ben Jonson wrote for the entertainment is short – it occupies only six folios in the manuscript Conway Papers (Knowles, “Jonson’s Entertainment at Britain’s Burse” 118) – but it is a key document in trying to understand the mechanics, the constructing and the staging of an economy of gazes from which commerce derives much of its special force, its ability to create surplus value, to convene, to draw the contours of a human community (however inequitable this community may be), and to transform material objects into powerful images, bearing the authority of something that lies beyond their visible, palpable, material existence.

  • 8 For a political discussion of the manuscript relating to questions of patronage, see Starza-Smith 1 (...)
  • 9 “Seeing an image means gaining access to what gazes out from within the visible itself, it means of (...)

6Jonson’s text called for a cast of three fellow actors (Nathan Field played the role of the Keeper, Willima Ostler, that of the Shop Master, and Giles Cary, that of the Shop Boy) as well as musicians, among which Nicholas Lanier, who may have played the fourth singing role, that of Apollo, redoubling within the entertainment the figure of the poet. Knowles claims that the extant manuscript is far from being a “presentation copy” (“Cecil’s Shopping Center” 14) and that it only gives us an approximate idea of what the entertainment may have been. The middle part in particular of this manuscript, which is given in four different scripts “possibly from the same hand,” is “somewhat disorganized” (“Jonson’s Entertainment at Britain’s Burse” 119). Knowles’s claim is that the manuscript reads as a form of “political intelligence” and offers only limited literary value (“Jonson’s Entertainment at Britain’s Burse” 123).8 To my mind, however, the entertainment appears to be much more rhetorically structured than what has hitherto been recognized and clearly bears the imprint of Jonson the classicist. Indeed, it appears to be structured according to the different parts of speech of classical rhetoric: the exordium, narration, partition, confirmation, refutation, and peroration. Each part of the speech/spectacle is also sustained by the evocation of special objects or categories of objects. These objects become, in other words, the material embodiments of the different parts of a classical oration. By fusing with parts of speech, they are no longer only objects but are constituted as images, in the sense defined by Mondzain, that is to say, visible traces of a something that remains invisible and that needs to be articulated by words at the same time to gain efficiency.9

The Exordium

  • 10 The expression at the time designated a money dealer’s table.
  • 11 Expensive Chinese porcelain was already popular throughout Europe. However, it is important to note (...)

7The entertainment begins with the Key Keeper or Porter showing the party into the premises. He apostrophizes each of the members of the royal family, inviting them into what he calls “some land of discovery of a new region here, to which I am your compass” (357, ll. 8-9), an idea echoed towards the end of the entertainment by the Master who calls himself a “Daedalus” (366, l. 196). This first part of the entertainment, which may have been held on the ground floor or a gallery, draws attention to the Burse as a piece of uncharted land, an unprecedented architectural device housing unheard of forms of human “commerce” (in the sense of interaction) and generating all but “perplexities” (358, l. 25). Neither a “public bank,”10 “where money should be lent at five i’the hundred” (ll. 26-27) nor “a Lombard to deal with all manner of pawns” (l. 29) nor a “storehouse” (l. 30-31) or “arsenal” (l. 34), nor yet a “library” (l. 36), the Burse defies definition and sets human imagination in motion: “I wonder,” says the Key-Keeper as he finishes his enumeration, “how such men could keep their brains from being guilty of imagining it rather a place to twist silk, or make ropes, or play shuttlecock better than nothing” (359, ll. 41-43). Like a wunderkammer, whose function is to display curious naturalia and artificalia that come from the margins of the charted world and resist clear categorization, the shop the viewer is about to discover stands on the brink of the visible and the invisible. Interestingly, this marginality would have been highlighted by the location of the New Exchange with respect to the precinct of the City of London. The Key Keeper ends his introduction without having ever given a positive definition of the place. Rather, he simply brings it verbally into being by telling us what it is not, then gesturing towards a particular “China man” (359, l. 48) and his china shop that is revealed as the shutters or curtains of the stall open.11 Though far-eastern porcelain was already popular throughout Europe, the choice of a china shop which, as we shall see, contains many objects that are not in fact chinaware, is once again significant in terms of marginality: people’s representation of China was still very instable. It was thought of in terms, not so much of a specific country or region, as of the eastern-most border of the world and as of a land of plenty (Bo). The notion of “guil[t]” that the Key Keeper associates with the fantastical “imagining[s]” of distant on-lookers may come as a surprise in his cheerful speech of greeting. Yet this frames well with the function of a classical exordium, which rests upon the persuasive appeal of ethos. In the final words of his introductory speech, the Key Keeper apostrophizes the king, asking him to “[drown] all offence in your welcome” (ll. 46-47) in order to establish credibility with his special audience as was customary of an exordium.

The Narratio and Partitio

  • 12 Sermin Meskill’s analysis of the “gaze of envy” in Jonson’s works is useful here, though she does n (...)
  • 13 For Quitinlian, the propositio, or statement of the charge, is blended with the partitio, also call (...)

8The second part of script for the entertainment can be seen to bring together both the narration and partition of a classical oration. The spectators are now introduced to a Shop Boy and his Master whose complementary forms of eloquence serve to further dazzle and attract the eye. The straightfoward enumeratio of the Shop Boy awakens the auditors to the wealth of marvellous objects the Burse holds in store. It stands as the statement of facts in the narration or partition in the form of a simple list. The sense of plenty is of course conveyed visually, but also aurally through the use of anaphora, epiphora and rhyme: “What do you lack? What is’t you buy? Very fine China stuffs of all kinds of qualities? China chains, China bracelets, China scarves, China fans, China girdles, […] caskets, umbrellas, sundials, hourglasses, looking-glasses, burning glasses, concave glasses, triangular glasses […]. Flow’ers of silk, mosaic fishes? Waxen fruit and porc’elain dishes? […]” At the end of his speech, the Shop Boy drives back his initial question but introduces an interesting variation in his phrasing: “What do you lack?” is reworded as an apostrophe and affirmation “See, what you lack,” revealing that his initial question was in fact a rhetorical one. What the spectator (i.e., the subject) lacks is necessarily what is thrown before his eyes (i.e., the object, in its etymological sense) and constituted within the framework of the “place of show” into a thing to marvel upon, desire or envy because one lacks it and is urged to appropriate it as part of oneself.12 This question is then repeated again by the Master, it is the propositio13 of the entertainment.

The Confirmatio

  • 14 “[R]arely furnished” is to be understood here in the sense of “furnished rarities.” It stands in co (...)
  • 15 Linda Levy Peck draws attention to another piece, a Turkish-style ewer, girdled in the same fashion (...)

9The long central speech the Master delivers in turn (and which is only interrupted once by the Boy’s interjection “If it be toward you, sir,” 363, l. 141) functions as the confirmation (before the interruption) and refutation (after the interruption) of a classical oration. The Master now appeals, as is fit, to his spectators’ logos, drawing their attention anew to the objects that had been mentioned all too hastily by the Shop Boy, as if these commodities were the embodied proofs of a properly conduced oration. His speech is structured in the same way as the shelves of the “chest” or “shop” of rarities towards which he points, fashioning the viewer’s particularizing gaze: “What lack you nobilities? Please you to take a nearer view of these excellencies, examine but some parcel of the particulars, and run over the rest upon the full speed of your eye. A few shelves, somewhat thin, and rarely furnished,14 I confess! But if all the magazines of Europe afford the like, I will shrink this poor head into my shop and never more be seen” (360, ll. 61-66). He solicits his audience’s “credit” (l. 70) by arguing that all his good dishes are true porcelain, contrary to the cheaper “adulterate” (l. 71) imitations that are found elsewhere and that were starting to flood European markets (Brooks 21). The confirmatio, however, comes to exceed the traditional appeal to logos, blending the logical and the marvellous when the Master claims that his dishes are so authentic that, like those of the sultan of Turkey, they break if you attempt to put poison in them. Nature and art fuse together in the technical description he gives of foreign porcelain, which Jonson in fact borrows nearly word for word from Gonzalez de Mendosa’s popular History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China, translated and published in English in 1588, indicating that China was mostly a textual space for the playwright: “These are made of true earth, first contused in a mortar and then ground in a mill, after put into your lake or cistern, and then macerated till the hardness conquered. Then take they the cream o’the top […] and form it into what fashion they list and, while it is melling in the furnace, paint it with those figures and give it perpetuity of what colour they please” (360-61, ll. 74-79). The description is evocative of the multi-coloured overglaze enamels of the sixteenth-century Chinese vase below, or the fashionable blue and white China cup in a London gilded silver mount that is thought to have been a bequest from Walter Raleigh to Robert Cecil.15

Fig. 5: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels, Jingdezhen made, 16th century. Museum no. 4396-1857.

Fig. 5: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels, Jingdezhen made, 16th century. Museum no. 4396-1857.

©Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Fig. 6: Two-handled bowl from Burghley House, Lincolnshire, Chinese porcelain 1573-ca. 1585, British mounts ca. 1585.

Fig. 6: Two-handled bowl from Burghley House, Lincolnshire, Chinese porcelain 1573-ca. 1585, British mounts ca. 1585.

Hard-paste porcelain, gilded silver, 15.9 × 24.1 cm; with handles: 33 cm. Museum no. 44.14.5.

©The Metropolitan Museum of New York.

As the spectators contemplate the dishes set before their eyes, the Master’s speech progressively brings the radiating, marvellous sheen of each piece rhetorically, if not into being, at least into focus: “Here is a piece of it now, tralucent as amber and subtler than crystal” (361, ll. 83-84).

Fig. 7: Porcelain, celadon glaze, with incised decoration, Guangdong made, ca. 1600. Museum no. 1701-1876.

Fig. 7: Porcelain, celadon glaze, with incised decoration, Guangdong made, ca. 1600. Museum no. 1701-1876.

©Victoria & Albert Museum.

The “cup of greene pursselyne” Robert Cecil is reported to have given to Queen Elisabeth as a New Year gift in 1587-1588 (Dillon 222) may have had a similar sheen and near translucence as the piece above.

  • 16 G. P. Valeriano devotes a whole chapter to the elephant (Bk. I, ch. 2), inspired by Cicero’s De nat (...)

10The master goes on to point the viewers’ attention in the direction of “a second rarity, a conceited saltcellar” in the shape of “an elephant with a castle on his back. It can be said to be “conceited” not only because of the “art of the [original] artificer” but also because of the Master’s rationalizing and moralizing impulse when he accounts for the symbolism of the shape: “but the elephant, being the wisest beast, it was fit he should carry the salt […] for by salt is understood wisdom” (361, ll. 86-92). Jonson half-mockingly has the Master extend his claim and assert that “he that would study but the allegory of a china shop might stand worthy of an academy. Old Bartholomew of the Propriety of Things and Pliny in English are nothing to it […]” (362, ll. 107-109). As in his Masque of Blacknesse and Masque of Beautie (Gordon), Jonson draws heavily on Giovanni Pierio Valeriano’s Hierogliphica (1556) in the choice of his imagery here. But the elephant image is not only sourced in texts and hieroglyphics.16 It also materialized in attractive and expensive commodities that constituted external signs of wealth and status in Jonson’s day. Though I have not found any salt cellar that is exactly evocative of the object described in the Entertainment, its editors note that the Earls of Northampton and Somerset are known to have owned decorative ewers such as the elephant-shaped jug below.

The mention of the elephant-shaped salt cellar’s “engine” (l. 89), however, calls more to mind the type of sophisticated gold-work automata and clocks that the wealthiest European collectors, including Robert Cecil, prided themselves on owning. The following model quite neatly illustrates the Master’s bedazzled description of the minutiae of the object, “the spreading of the ear, winding the proboscis, mounting of the tusks, and architecture of the castle” (361, ll. 87-88).

Fig. 8: Elephant-Shaped Kendi, made in Iran, second quarter of the 17th century.

Fig. 8: Elephant-Shaped Kendi, made in Iran, second quarter of the 17th century.

Stonepaste; painted in shades of blue under transparent glaze, 23.2x18.1x11.7 cm. Museum no. 68.180.

©The Metropolitan Museum of New York.

Whatever the specific object, Jonson’s script seems to delight, as suggested by the editors, in the potential of the salt cellar for a pun on his patron Salisbury’s name. The material lustre of the thing combined with rhetorical puissance in the act of witty compliment.

11Amongst the other desirable objects the Master mentions are a carpet woven in feathers, fans, and what he calls “Turkey varnish,” probably in reference to lacquer. Many objects related in the collective imaginary to China came from diverse parts of the world and were often imported via Portuguese merchants, blurring provenances in one same, misty, marginal region. It is no surprise then if the Entertainment’s “China man” displays such a variety of objects from diverse provenances.

Fig. 9: Fan, Florence, ca. 1620.

Fig. 9: Fan, Florence, ca. 1620.

Cut straw applied to silk covered pasteboard, reinforced with metal rods, decorated with gold paper and silk. Museum no. T.184-1982.

©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Fig. 10: Lacquer closet door, made in London, ca. 1620.

Fig. 10: Lacquer closet door, made in London, ca. 1620.

Eucalyptus, another tropical hardwood, oak and walnut, painted, mordant gilded, silvered and varnished. Inspired by East Asian lacquer, but also Indo-Portuguese and Middle Eastern wares. Museum no. W.9-1936.

©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

The Master comes, at last, to focus on another category of apparently less “exotic” objects already mentioned in the narratio by the Shop Boy – optical instruments. At the end of the first half of his speech the Master reaches indeed what seems a real climax: “Then here’s a spectacle, an excellent pair of multiplying eyes […]. Your epicure buys yonder, too! But here’s my jewel: my perspective. I will read you with this glass the distinction of any man’s clothes ten, nay twenty mile off, the colour of his horse, cut or long tail, the form of his beard, the lines of his face” (363, ll. 135, 137-140).

Fig. 11: Telescope by Galileo (replica).

Fig. 11: Telescope by Galileo (replica).

Card, complete, glass and leather. Science Museum, London. Museum no. 1923-668.

© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.

Fig. 12: Telescope by Galileo (detail).

Fig. 12: Telescope by Galileo (detail).

Card, complete, glass and leather. Science Museum, London. Museum no. 1923-668.

© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.

What are the issues at stake with this very early telescope or magnifying device of which it seems Cecil might have owned a rare specimen? Ben Jonson, at once hints at the function luxury items play in processes of social distinction here and suggests that the Burse itself, with its innumerable stages, or places of “show”, might act as an optical instrument bringing the most distant places into focus and their treasures close at hand. But this happens at a cost: distortion and possibly illusion. Indeed the trite focus on the beards one can see miles away, seems to take us in another direction, undermining the process by which marvel has just been conjured up.

The Refutatio

12As the Master transitions into the second part of his long speech, the occasional jibes that were there from the start grow into a true farce. His shop is replete, as it turns out, with beards and moustaches of all sorts. Jonson indulges here in one of the staple clowning routines of the Elizabethan theatre, beard-joking, that also occurs in one of the mechanicals’ scene in a Midsummer Night’s Dream (I, ii), and that Jonson makes good again in Epicene with the character of the barber, named Cutbeard, and the final revelation scene, when Epicene is shown without “his” (and not “her,” as it turns out) hairpiece, and Cutbeard and Otter lose their false beards (V, iv, ll. 165-172). The play was first performed the same year, very shortly after the Entertainment at Britain’s Burse.

Fig. 13: Detail from Michelangelo’s The Dream, ca.1533.

Fig. 13: Detail from Michelangelo’s The Dream, ca.1533.

Full picture available on line : https://courtauld.ac.uk/​gallery/​collection/​drawings-prints/​drawing-highlights/​the-dream-il-sogno

© The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London.

Here, the Master boasts his unique collection, that has, so he claims, nothing to do with the “vulgar ornaments of every milliner’s shop” (364, l. 151):

This was the beard of Prince Arthur in the citizens’ show at Mile End, anno 24 of our late Queen, and came in with Monsieur the same year ’81, and was worn with the German sleeves and the devil’s breeches. […] This mustachio a la Turquesia came in a year or two before with Casimir, but was borrowed by the Duke of Shoreditch in the same show and, indeed, fell off after the first hot service in the Low Countries, what time the kettledrum-breeches were disbombasted in the streets by public commandement. This shaven cheek and pickardevant came over with an Italian marquis […]. (364-365, ll. 154-163)

In shifting his spectators’ focus on property beards, the Master’s speech now acts as an embedded refutatio of the pledges of authenticity previously given. It deconstructs or “disbombasts,” to use Jonson’s term, the splendid spectacle of curious objects. It awakens us to the consciousness that the marvellous rarities we have just seen are, in their own way, the products of “show,” a suggestion also made clear by the reference to vizards (or masks) and waxen objects in the same passage.

The Peroration

  • 17 As the editors remind us, the Magi were believed to have travelled from Bethlehem to Cologne.

13As he moves out of his comic purple patch, the Master presents us with two last rare objects. The first one (which will be given to the king at the end of the entertainment) is a sophisticated mechanical clock, most probably of German make as the elephant-shape clock shown above, which can “play alone without the help of a second.” This one sets into motion, not an elephant, but figurines of the biblical “Joseph and the ass and the three Kings of Cologne,” or wisemen (366, ll. 196-198)17. The second, apparently unrelated, is a “statue of Apollo” the Merchant claims can sing before he suddently unveils an actor dressed as Apollo in a recess of the “place of show” (a trick Shakespeare was soon to use in the Winter’s Tale with the character of Hermione, and which seems to have been a common practice in court masques). However haphazard it may first seem, the juxtaposition of these two figures or “objects” – the mechanical clock and the living body of an actor – is far from fortuitous. It calls attention to the fluidity between the authentic and the illusory, between the products of nature and the products of art and mechanics, between natural bodies and “conceited” artefacts or machines, all of which are taken into similar “commodity situations” (Appadurai) through a carefully devised commerce of gazes. If ever, despite the suggestion of the refutatio, the spectators happen to be oblivious at this point of the show to the commerce they have engaged in by looking, Apollo’s “homonymous” song makes the implicit binding contract clear by appealing to the ear: “If to your ear it wonder bring, / To hear Apollo’s statue sing / ’Gainst Nature’s law / Ask this great King / And his fair Queen, who are the proper cause” (367, ll. 201-206). In gazing at the living yet counterfeited Apollo – a double of the poet – the spectators gaze in fact at the princely and legitimizing origin of his art, itself the framework enabling the transformation of objects into images, which may be truthful or deceitful imitations, but which are unquestionably the locus for collective imaginings based on the circulation of signs and leading to the creation of value. It does not really matter in the end if Jonson’s relation to patronage and to consumption is a conflicted one and if the entertainment has worked at “disbombasting” the rhetoric of marvel it first set up: the economy the entertainment spells out and performs through the commerce of gazes is in no way jeopardized by the refutatio. Rather, it is given more solid rhetorical foundations. The power of rhetoric rests precisely on the fact that it can accommodate criticism and gaps between the “real” object, or the original invisible image, and its material variant that lies in front of our eyes. It turns such objects into the loci of consenting and conscious forms of negotiation or exchange, both of value and of meaning. For all its jibing, the entertainment still succeeds in legitimizing a new marketplace through the economy of patronage that rests upon the royal gaze in a way that is reminiscent of the “a spiritual and strategic management of the bodily operations implicated in vision” Mondzain finds at work in the religious icon.

14Throughout Apollo’s final song and the ensuing gift-giving ceremony by which the members of the royal family each receive a valuable present from Salisbury, Ben Jonson’s entertainment again follows the pattern of classical rhetoric. Though the tone remains ambivalently comic and ironic to the end, he conventionally appeals in this last part to feelings, or pathos. Apollo’s lyrics, which are, as seen above, highly reflexive, heighten the emotional impact of the peroration’s compliment: “It is not wisdom’s power alone, / Or beauties that can move a stone, / But both so high, / In this great King / And his fair Queen, do strike the harmony. / Which harmony hath power to touch / The dullest earth, and make it such / As I am now,” i.e. alive (my emphases, 367, ll. 208-215). When the Master resumes his speech after Apollo’s song to utter the words which will accompany the gifts, he is confident he has moved the king: “Well, sir, ye look like a man that would give a good handsel” (367, l. 225). The specific term that is chosen here – a handsel – is important. The editors of the entertainment remind us that it can designate either a “present expressive of good wishes offered to inaugurate a new enterprise” or “a first payment, often the first money taken by a trader in the morning, as an earnest of more to come” (367). Here the first payment is the visit with which the king, queen and prince grace the New Exchange. Etymologically, the word “handsel” (which may again offer the possibility for a pun on the name Sal’sbury) draws attention to the enactment of an exchange, of a circulation of an object or payment from hand to hand, sealing the promise of a new, efficient economy, which, thanks to the commerce of gazes materialized by the objects of marvel, is fluidly tied to the governing, royal economy.

15Cecil’s “counter-gifts” are then given out to the Royal Family by the Master and are accompanied by words that continue to enhance this fluid mix of gift-giving economy, barter economy and market economy, in a way that brilliantly illustrates Arjun Appadurai’s rereading of Marx and his criticism of the political thinker’s simplified oppositions between these different forms of economy (Appadurai 7 & ff.). “And, madam, let me have a mart with you too” (368, ll. 231-232, my emphasis), the Master says, for instance, before giving Queen Anne a silver plaque featuring an Annunciation scene worth some 4000 crowns, according to the Venetian ambassador who attended the show (355). The object may have resembled the following sixteenth-century chased and pierced silver plaque made by a Spanish artist working under German influence held in the Victoria & Albert Museum collections.

Fig. 14: Annunciation Plaque, León (Spain), ca. 1530.

Fig. 14: Annunciation Plaque, León (Spain), ca. 1530.

Parcel-gilt silver raised and chased. Museum no. M.510:1-1956.

©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

“Ye look like a good customer too, and a good paymaster to boot!” (368, ll. 236, my emphases), the Master declares in turn to Prince Henry, as he offers him a costly horse caparison, once more suggesting the overlap between gift-giving and trade economy. According to the report of the Ambassador, the shop or “place of show” was hung with a banner inscribed with what may well have been the Burse’s motto: “All other places give for money, here all is given for Love” (355). Implicit here, is the notion of grace, so central to the efficacy of icons such as described by Mondzain (Le Commerce des regards; “What does an Image Mean?”) and which had for centuries been put to the service of Christian forms of imperialism and government. Cecil and Jonson knew only too well that the success of trade rested upon other forms of commerce.

*

16To conclude, let us focus on the gifts that were given to the king, to Queen Anne, and, at last in the show to Henry, a prince whose specific patronage Jonson may have been seeking during this period (Starza Smith 193-94). Critics have often been surprised by their obvious European origin, which seems to stand in contrast to the marvellous, costly exotica found in the china shop. Horse furniture is certainly both a traditional and fitting gift for a young royal heir but it may also hint at the original edifice the New Exchange was built from, the once royal Durham house stables, suggesting an organic integration of the new economy within the old. The automated clock, depicting Joseph and the Magi given to the king, and the silver Annunciation given to the queen are all too biblical and European as well. According to the Master’s words, the plaque’s value lies at once in its costly material, the subject it depicts and in the sophistication of its art: “Here’s a picture that I do value at something, both for the matter and that which exceeds it, the workmanship. It is the salutation of the Blessed Virgin by the Angel Gabriel, with the choir of other angels applauding it” (368, ll. 232-235). Two hypotheses are worth exploring to account for the choice of this specific gift: the first, is of course, that Cecil thought that it would simply flatter Queen Anne’s personal tastes and beliefs, and in particular her Catholic sympathies. The second, more crucial to my mind, is that in bringing into “the place of show” a devotional image, Cecil, and Ben Jonson were driven, however consciously or unconsciously, by the power derived from the commerce of gazes which takes place in each and every icon, allowing not only for the human gaze to approach the physically absent divine, but also the divine gaze to reach, enrich and transform the onlooker, and to transform all gazers into one community of wondrous beholders. The inaugural gesture of giving an icon to Queen Anne was meant to grace in turn each and every transaction that would take place thereafter in the Burse, to extend its powerful spiritual economy to the material economy of objects turned into loci of collective desire and imagining, to endow, in other words, each and every commodity with the iconic powers of the religious image. The same is true of the sophisticated clock with its Christian motif given to the king, which, the Master tells us, “is past the heat of hands or the beams of sun” (367, l. 222). It glows or radiates beyond itself, as would a sacred image. The force of commerce lies in the exchange of goods but also in the exchange of gazes that shapes goods into objects of desire, into indexes of something that always goes lacking. According to Mondzain (“What does an image mean?” 310), every image grieves an absent object. Jonson’s double-edged entertainment, however consciously illusory and ironic throughout, is not in vain: it places valuable and fraudulent or fake objects alike in a rhetorical and material framework that truly turns them into effective images and currencies, empowered by the endless circulation of gazes that meet within them. Yet, in the midst of Cecil’s theatre of objects, of his theatre of “commodities” which “shall not beg to be sold” (363, l. 127), on the assumption that they are the “true” thing, given only for “love,” Jonson also quietly and astutely reminds us that these powers are ultimately due not so much to the imperial or divine power they seem to gesture towards as to the “workmanship” of the artist and his show. What the spectators are taught to grieve is the “true image” but what they are also called to embrace, making the most and the best of the show, is the objects, the stage properties of the many forms of commerce in which all spectators, or “we,” self-consciously indulge and engage. It is not the least of the forces of a new type of commerce to have prompted Jonson into such an innovative form of artful creation.

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Bibliographie

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Brook, Timothy. Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World. London: Profile, 2008.

Butler, Martin, ed. Re-Presenting Ben Jonson: Text, History, Performance. Basingstoke: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.

Dillon, Edward. Porcelain. London: Methuen, 1904.

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Guerci, Manolo. “Salisbury House in London, 1599-1694: The Strand Palace of Sir Robert.” Architectural History 52 (2009): 31-78.

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Knowles, John, “Cecil’s Shopping Center.” Times Literary Supplement. 7 February 1997: 14-15.

Le Roy Ladurie Emmanuel & Liechtenhan Francine-Dominique, ed. and trans. L’Europe de Thomas Platter: France, Angleterre, Pays-Bas, 1599-1600. Paris: Fayard, 2006.

Levy Peck, Linda. Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005.

Jonson, Ben. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson. Ed. David Bevington, Martin Butler, and Ian Donaldson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012.

Mancall, Peter C. Hakluyt’s Promise: An Elizabethan’s Obsession for an English America. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007.

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Saunders, J. ‘‘The Old Royal Exchange and Its Founder.’’ London. Ed. Charles Knight. 6 vols. London: C. Knight, 1842: ii.

Scott, Alison V. “Marketing Luxury at the New Exchange: Jonson’s Entertainment at Britain’s Burse and the Rhetoric of Wonder.” Early Modern Literary Studies 12:2 (Sept 2006). < http://purl.oclc.org/emls/12-2/scotluxu.htm>. Accessed 26 April 2020.

Scott, Alison V. Literature and the Idea of Luxury in Early Modern England. Burlington: Ashgate, 2015.

Starza Smith, Daniel. John Donne and the Conway Papers: Patronage and Manuscript Circulation in the Early Seventeenth-Century. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.

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Teo, Emily. “Soie, laques et lychees. Culture matérielle chinoise dans les récits de voyage européens à l’époque moderne.” Objets nomades: circulations matérielles, appropriations et formation des identité à l’ère de la première mondialisation, xvie-xviiie siècles. Ed. Ariane Fennetaux, Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise & Nancy Oddo. Turhout: Brepols, 2020. 142-57.

Williams, Clare, ed. Thomas Platter’s Travels in England, 1599. London: J. Cape, 1937.

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Notes

1 The translation of the expression is her own in her article “What does Seeing and Image Mean ?”: “I propose to name the operations linking subjects thanks to the mediation of images a ‘commerce of gazes’” (311).

2 The script is part of papers having belonged to Sir Edward Conway, also known as the “Conway Papers” in the State Domestic Papers (SP14/44/62*). It was first published in Butler (ed.), Re-Presenting Ben Jonson. For a discussion of the manuscript by James Knowles, see pp. 117-123. I will be quoting the text from the more recent 2012 edition in The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson, vol. 3. References will be given to page numbers for the editors’ introduction to the Entertainment at Britain’s Burse, and to page and line numbers for the text itself.

3 I.e., in the ancient and medieval sense of luxuria.

4 The City never benefited from the Burse and its rents to the extent initially projected because Gresham had encumbered his interest with expensive trusts for Gresham College (Baer 34).

5 In the MS, the entertainment has no title. It simply begins with the speech-heading, “The Key-Keeper,” which has sometimes been given as an alternate title to the entertainment.

6 Thomas Platter’s inventory was reprinted and translated in Thomas Platter’s Travels in England, 1599. See pages 220-21 in particular. A French translation was also provided in Le siècle des Platter (368-71). This French translation has been made available online through the project “Curiositas – Les Cabinets de curiosités en Europe,” Université de Poitiers. < https://curiositas.org/cabinet/curios1937>. Hakluyt was another visitor of Cope’s cabinet. See Mancall 156-57.

7 According to the editors of the entertainment, who base their figures on the available manuscript accounts, the total cost of the show, not including the items lent by Walter Cope or the gifts given to the Royal Family, would have amounted to the extravagant expense of £178 12s 10d (354).

8 For a political discussion of the manuscript relating to questions of patronage, see Starza-Smith 193 and ff.

9 “Seeing an image means gaining access to what gazes out from within the visible itself, it means offering the immanence of an absence to the gaze”; “the task of articulating the critical dimension of the visible is now entrusted to speech. The word (words) must open eyes that would otherwise forget that all they can do is believe what they see. ‘Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed’, the very one who paid with his life for having wanted to show himself is reported to have said” (“What does an Image Mean?” 310, 311). Mondzain also draws attention to the fact that the icon refers back to the image of the divine by virtue of the homonymous inscription in the picture, a rhetorical device that signals and legitimates its relation to its model despite the irremediable gap that remains between the visible and the invisible (see in particular Le Commerce des regards 155 & ff.).

10 The expression at the time designated a money dealer’s table.

11 Expensive Chinese porcelain was already popular throughout Europe. However, it is important to note that people’s representation of China was still very instable and thought of in terms of the eastern-most border of the world. See Teo 146.

12 Sermin Meskill’s analysis of the “gaze of envy” in Jonson’s works is useful here, though she does not explore Entertainment at Britain’s Burse. She demonstrates how, for Jonson, envy is both the poison the author needs to fight against (in particular in the form of the envious gaze of his reader who threatens to deform his writings through ill-reception or plagiarism) and the antidote that allows him to protect his own creations as he exerts a “vigilant,” “poetic gaze,” “divided between an ‘eye’ which looks curiously at its own creation and an ‘I’ which defends the same creation from the harmful eye of its own envy” (179). In Entertainment at Britain’s Burse, then, Jonson can be seen fashioning a form of authorized envious gaze for certain objects within the spectators. If this envy is “authorized” it is because Jonson also gives the spectators the means to see the object of envy as a constructed image. “Buying into” this object or image then means using it as the basis for the formation of a human community whose “love” is channeled into common objects of desire. Objects become, to a certain extent, the material locus of a social and economic contract (see below).

13 For Quitinlian, the propositio, or statement of the charge, is blended with the partitio, also called divisio (or outline), and helps to serve memory (Institutio Oratoria 4.5).

14 “[R]arely furnished” is to be understood here in the sense of “furnished rarities.” It stands in contrast to “thin.”

15 Linda Levy Peck draws attention to another piece, a Turkish-style ewer, girdled in the same fashion, which belonged to William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, in the section of her book devoted to the New Exchange (49).

16 G. P. Valeriano devotes a whole chapter to the elephant (Bk. I, ch. 2), inspired by Cicero’s De natura deorum (Bk. II). I thank Jean-Jacques Chardin for bringing these sources to my attention.

17 As the editors remind us, the Magi were believed to have travelled from Bethlehem to Cologne.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1: Wenceslaus Hollar, Interior view of the Royal Exchange, ca. 1647.
Légende Etching, 154x260mm. Museum no. 1880,0911.756.
Crédits © The Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 456k
Titre Fig. 2: After Wenceslaus Hollar, View from the River Thames, with Durham House on the left [and stable roofs behind it], Salisbury House in the centre and Worcester House on the right; view as it was around 1630, 1808.
Légende Etching and engraving, 179x252mm. Museum no. 1880,1113.1388.
Crédits © The Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 487k
Titre Fig. 3: Inigo Jones, Elevation for the New Exchange. The Provost and Fellows of Worcester College, Oxford.
Crédits © Conway Library.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 44k
Titre Fig. 4: John Harris, View of the front of the new Exchange, or Britain's Bourse, in the Strand. c. 1715.
Légende Etching and engraving, 178x262 mm, museum no 1880,1113.2836.
Crédits © The Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 341k
Titre Fig. 5: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels, Jingdezhen made, 16th century. Museum no. 4396-1857.
Crédits ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 322k
Titre Fig. 6: Two-handled bowl from Burghley House, Lincolnshire, Chinese porcelain 1573-ca. 1585, British mounts ca. 1585.
Légende Hard-paste porcelain, gilded silver, 15.9 × 24.1 cm; with handles: 33 cm. Museum no. 44.14.5.
Crédits ©The Metropolitan Museum of New York.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2M
Titre Fig. 7: Porcelain, celadon glaze, with incised decoration, Guangdong made, ca. 1600. Museum no. 1701-1876.
Crédits ©Victoria & Albert Museum.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 155k
Titre Fig. 8: Elephant-Shaped Kendi, made in Iran, second quarter of the 17th century.
Légende Stonepaste; painted in shades of blue under transparent glaze, 23.2x18.1x11.7 cm. Museum no. 68.180.
Crédits ©The Metropolitan Museum of New York.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 356k
Titre Fig. 9: Fan, Florence, ca. 1620.
Légende Cut straw applied to silk covered pasteboard, reinforced with metal rods, decorated with gold paper and silk. Museum no. T.184-1982.
Crédits ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 527k
Titre Fig. 10: Lacquer closet door, made in London, ca. 1620.
Légende Eucalyptus, another tropical hardwood, oak and walnut, painted, mordant gilded, silvered and varnished. Inspired by East Asian lacquer, but also Indo-Portuguese and Middle Eastern wares. Museum no. W.9-1936.
Crédits ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 915k
Titre Fig. 11: Telescope by Galileo (replica).
Légende Card, complete, glass and leather. Science Museum, London. Museum no. 1923-668.
Crédits © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 69k
Titre Fig. 12: Telescope by Galileo (detail).
Légende Card, complete, glass and leather. Science Museum, London. Museum no. 1923-668.
Crédits © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 147k
Titre Fig. 13: Detail from Michelangelo’s The Dream, ca.1533.
Légende Full picture available on line : https://courtauld.ac.uk/​gallery/​collection/​drawings-prints/​drawing-highlights/​the-dream-il-sogno
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-13.png
Fichier image/png, 295k
Titre Fig. 14: Annunciation Plaque, León (Spain), ca. 1530.
Légende Parcel-gilt silver raised and chased. Museum no. M.510:1-1956.
Crédits ©Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/1718/docannexe/image/4713/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 562k
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Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise, « “The Place of Show”: Commodities and the Commerce of Gazes in Ben Jonson’s Entertainment at Britain’s Burse  »XVII-XVIII [En ligne], 77 | 2020, mis en ligne le 31 décembre 2020, consulté le 06 décembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/1718/4713 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/1718.4713

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Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise

Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise est professeur de littérature et d’histoire culturelle britanniques des XVIe et XVIIe siècles à l’Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle et membre junior de l’IUF. Elle s’est intéressée aux interactions entre poésie, théologie et image dans l’Angleterre réformée (Le Verbe fait image, PSN, 2010). Plus récemment, elle a étendu son enquête à l’impact de la culture matérielle sur la littérature de la période (théâtre et poésie en particulier) et aux dispositifs littéraires qui mettent en scène un rapport nouveau aux objets. Elle est la co-éditrice d’Objets nomades (Brepols, 2020), rédactrice adjointe de la revue en ligne Etudes Epistémè, et vice-présidente de la Société Française Shakespeare depuis janvier 2020.

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