This monograph is an ambitious work of literary criticism focused on Renaissance England that draws from the history of humanism, the history of science and medicine, and the history of esotericism. Eggert suggests a new interpretation of early modern history wherein authors responded to intellectual shortcomings within humanist learning by employing alchemy to explore and test the boundaries of knowledge. The text includes discussions of literary authors, playwrights, and poets—including John Donne, William Shakespeare, George Herbert, and Ben Jonson (among many others)—alongside John Dee, Francis Bacon, Thomas Norton, William Harvey, and a plenitude of other physicians, alchemists, and natural philosophers. Eggert argues that these many authors were united by a knowledge practice gained from their common humanist education, which she dubs “disknowledge” (2–3). This neologism has various meanings and inflections that she expounds throughout the text, but the general signification is “a conscious and deliberate setting aside of one compelling...
Disknowledge: Literature, Alchemy, and the End of Humanism in Renaissance England. By Katherine Eggert (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) 368 pp. $55.00
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Joel A. Klein; Disknowledge: Literature, Alchemy, and the End of Humanism in Renaissance England. By Katherine Eggert (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) 368 pp. $55.00. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2016; 47 (3): 416–418. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/JINH_r_01031
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