This chapter examines how Annie Ernaux rewrites the textual boundary between youth and age in Mémoire de fille (2016). Throughout her life Ernaux has written and rewritten aspects of her life history, but in Mémoire de fille she excavates a period of her life that has only been referred to briefly in previous texts. I will consider how this new piece in the puzzle both completes and complicates the representation of the author’s life and epoch in Ernaux’s œuvre, focusing particularly on the textual relationship between youth and age. In Les Années, in part through the shift from ‘je’ to ‘elle’, Ernaux represents her ageing self as estranged from her younger selves in a continuing process of loss; Shirley Jordan has argued that the voice of the ageing narrator in this text is marked by a new ‘fragility, anxiety and fear’ (2011, 138). Here I will argue that in Mémoire de fille, the confrontation with memories of an abusive relationship leads to a new, and stronger voice of ageing, and through the construction of a ‘survivor narrative’ to a new iteration of Ernaux’s feminist politics.
This chapter investigates the complex value of cloth goods used to care for diseased bodies in sixteenth-century Nuremberg. Clothes provided physically adaptive barriers against the malodorous emanations of leprosy, plague, and syphilis victims. Authorities viewed the odiferous bodies of the sick not only as unseemly, but they believed that their foul smells violated city airs with disease-producing miasma. The solution of cloth materials, however, proved to be problematic because the fabrics became soiled with human odors. Therefore, the absorbent, transferable, and portable material properties of cloth meant that unsuspecting or malicious city inhabitants disseminated the miasmic odors of the diseased bodies as they used, washed, and traded contaminated fabrics within the city. Beleaguered city leaders designated city spaces and personnel to neutralize the threat of even the smallest piece of clothing or bandaging. This study reveals how Nuremberg’s leaders were in a continuous process of solving physical problems which emerged in the course of city life. They not only needed spaces and materials to care for the diseased, but they also required places and procedures to cleanse the materials used for that care. Ultimately, it was this reactive adaptation of city space that shaped the use of landscape and fashioned daily life in the city.
Under the staunchly Catholic Austrian Habsburgs, David Ungnad (d. 1603) served as both a high government official and a Lutheran lay leader. At a time when Lutheran aristocrats like Ungnad dominated the provincial estates, Emperor Maximilian II chose Ungnad as his ambassador to the Ottoman court (1573–78). In 1576, on orders from Vienna, he sent a long circular letter to the Austrian estates. Hoping to gain their approval of higher taxes for border defense, he explained the current circumstances that precluded other possible means of protecting the border. This essay explores what Ungnad said, as it were, between the lines, speaking as a Lutheran to a largely Lutheran audience. He argued that Maximilian was not to blame for his failure to win the elective crown of Poland-Lithuania, a multi-confessional state. As a warning to true Christians in the West, he pointed to the “collapse” of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire, where Church offices were sold to the highest bidder by Ottoman officials. In other words, the Habsburg body politic that afforded only limited autonomy to Lutherans was nonetheless worth fighting for. Ungnad was a true Lutheran politique, rarely discussed by contemporaries but of vital importance behind the scenes.
Although scholars have begun exploring aging for women in early modern Europe, what this phase of life meant for nuns and former nuns after the early Reformation has not yet been researched. This chapter examines the petitions sent to sequestration officials in electoral Saxony by women facing poverty due to widowhood, disability, or inability to care for their children or themselves from the 1530s through the 1570s. Most women writing such letters detailed specific moments in their lives after the reform of convents as a rhetorical strategy to get or increase financial assistance from the elector. One striking aspect of these petitions is that although the life path of women who remained in the convent and those who left diverged immediately after the Reformation, ultimately all the women experienced significant hardships and financial insecurity as they aged. Most of the women, whether or not they left the convent, detailed the lack of support from family, local communities, and regional communities to assist them when needed. In these instances, many of the women inside and outside of the convent turned to their previous convent community to share information on how to get additional aid.
Animal sacrifice occupies a central place in Edward Albee’s plays. In The Zoo Story, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, A Delicate Balance, and The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, animal sacrifice constitutes for Albee a lifelong exploration into the bestiality of human nature. It also reflects an intimate connection to the human need for recognition and love. It is often overlooked, however, that in Albee’s plays the phenomenon of sacrifice may be understood in light of the Judeo-Christian tradition and that his plays exhibit numerous allusions to biblical texts and motifs. Theses allusions compel his audience to reflect upon the theology of sacrifice and the complex religious questions connected to this practice. The influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition may also be found in the work of contemporary playwrights such as David Adjmi, Ann Marie Healey, and David Henry Hwang, who take up similar religious themes and develop them further. They stage humans as subjects and objects of sacrifice made bearable through resurrection that takes place on and off the stage.