Book: Literature and the Law of Nations 1580-1680

Christopher N. WarrenLiterature and the Law of Nations 1580-1680 (Oxford University Press, 2015)

About this Book: In this groundbreaking study, Christopher Warren argues that early modern literary genres were deeply tied to debates about global legal order and that today’s international law owes many of its most basic suppositions to early modern literary culture. Literature and the Law of Nations shows how the separation of scholarship on law from scholarship on literature has limited the understanding of international law on both sides. Warren suggests that both literary and legal scholars have tacitly accepted tendentious but politically consequential assumptions about whether international law is “real” law. Literature and the Law of Nations recognizes the specific nature of early modern international law by showing how major writers of the English Renaissance-including Shakespeare, Milton, and Hobbes-deployed genres like epic, tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy, and history to shore up the canonical subjects and objects of modern international law. Warren demonstrates how Renaissance literary genres informed modern categories like public international law, private international law, international legal personality, and human rights. Students and scholars of Renaissance literature, intellectual history, the history of international law, and the history of political thought will find in Literature and the Law of Nations a rich interdisciplinary argument that challenges the usual accounts by charting a new literary history of international law.

Contains the chapter ‘From Imperial History to International Law: Thucydides, Hobbes, and the Law of Nations’.

Book: Homer and the Question of Strife from Erasmus to Hobbes

Jessica Wolfe, Homer and the Question of Strife from Erasmus to Hobbes (University of Toronto Press, 2015)

About this Book: From antiquity through the Renaissance, Homer’s epic poems – the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the various mock-epics incorrectly ascribed to him – served as a lens through which readers, translators, and writers interpreted contemporary conflicts. They looked to Homer for wisdom about the danger and the value of strife, embracing his works as a mythographic shorthand with which to describe and interpret the era’s intellectual, political, and theological struggles.

Homer and the Question of Strife from Erasmus to Hobbes elegantly exposes the ways in which writers and thinkers as varied as Erasmus, Rabelais, Spenser, Milton, and Hobbes presented Homer as a great champion of conflict or its most eloquent critic. Jessica Wolfe weaves together an exceptional range of sources, including manuscript commentaries, early modern marginalia, philosophical and political treatises, and the visual arts. Wolfe’s transnational and multilingual study is a landmark work in the study of classical reception that has a great deal to offer to anyone examining the literary, political, and intellectual life of early modern Europe.