Cultural semiotics, Spenser, and the captive woman by Louise Schleiner

By Louise Schleiner

This booklet makes use of thoughts from A.-J. Greimas to research Spenser's Shepheardes Calendar as a discourse and as a definitive textual content for the Elizabethan "political unconscious." It finds, besides a proof of the libidinal and political functioning of the Calender, an "ideologeme" commonly observable within the 1580s and 1590s, that of the captive/capturing lady.

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He describes Renaissance England (through some of its famous belletristic textsincluding Skelton's "Elynour Rumming," The Shepheardes Calender, and King Lear) as reflecting the prehistory of capitalism in terms of Marx's concept of "primitive accumulation" of capital, through the nascent capitalist classes' sepa- Page 21 ration of workers from control of the means of production. Some of what Halpern thus shows will be cited in Chapter 7 below. And what of untheorized, positivist study of literary texts, contexts, and proposed intellectual history?

Let us consider in conclusion what a semiotic cultural poetics might look like. , ''standard") practices and patternsphonemic, rhythmic, grammatical, lexematic; these are namely deviations from that standard "back towards [the language's] articulatory base, . . consequently towards the drive-governed bases of sound production," towards the logico-symbolic categories that make language systems possible, and towards the pre-Oedipal psychosomatic functions that relate codes to the bodies of speakers or writers and their partners or imagined partners.

In other words, each researcher will have some concept of both the exterior boundaries of semioticsthe borders of what it, as the study of potentially all human and animal sign systems, may usefully treatand its interior distinctions between greater and lesser (and variant kinds of) reliability for different studies. Sometimes, as with Eco (who took the idea from Hjelmslev), it is a matter of distinguishing studies that can be grounded centrally in algorithmic, empirical handling of informant data from those that cannot be so grounded.

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