Sage House: When you first talked to us about the economic perspective of your book, you mentioned your children, who are young adults making their way in the world, as an inspiration. Can you talk more about that?
William Kennedy: Going back to my adult offspring, our son was trying to mount a career as a musician [in the late 2000s]. Concurrently, our daughter had finished her law degree and was working in the not-for-profit sector [when the Great Recession of 2008–2009 hit]. It was an education for both of them to try to get themselves on their feet. So the experience of our adult children, and certainly the wider experience of economic crisis, got me thinking about these economic questions.
Just wage and inequality, distributive justice, commutative justice: these are all key tenets of moral philosophy in the late middle ages and early modern period.
SH: So you kind of experienced the recession most vividly through your children’s hardship, and these issues came to the fore of your mind at that time. Was this book inspired directly by that?
William J. Kennedy is Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities in the Department of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. His most recent book, Petrarchism at Work: Contextual Economies in the Age of Shakespeare, is newly published by Cornell University Press. In part one of the interview, we discuss the role of revision in the work of Petrarch and Ronsard and its contrality to Kennedy’s study of “contextual economies.”
Sage House: You argue that print technology was a game-changing innovation in the European Renaissance. If print was the disruptive technology of the time, how did poets such as Shakespeare and Ronsard deploy it to disrupt the system?
William Kennedy: People didn’t know what to do with print—the emerging technology of the time—just as I don’t know what to do with Twitter! It wasn’t at all intuitive for a sixteenth-century poet to want to get his poems into print. Poetry was regarded as live entertainment; poets would read their work aloud, sometimes people would copy it down, and sometimes poets would distribute their manuscripts to others to copy and pass on, but without any thought of print publication. Print as a technology was seen as having technical usages in disseminating information. Early printed books tended to favor self-help topics: “how-to” agricultural handbooks, merchant handbooks. Continue reading “Petrarchism at Work: A Two-part Interview with William J. Kennedy”→
Cornell University Press is pleased to introduce a new series, “On Land: New Perspectives in Territory, Development, and Environment,” edited by Wendy Wolford (Cornell University), Nancy Lee Peluso (University of California, Berkeley), and Michael Goldman (University of Minnesota). We recently invited Wendy to sit down with Sage House News to discuss what inspired the editors to embark on this project and to detail their areas of interest.
All three editors, as well as CUP Senior Acquiring Editor Jim Lance, will be available to field inquiries at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting, March 29–April 2, in San Francisco.
Sage House: Can you tell us about the manifesto you’ve been working on?
Wendy Wolford: The three coeditors for the series—Nancy, Michael, and I—wanted to write something that would outline in very general terms how we situate the series within a longer tradition of work. We also wanted to delineate some of the areas that we’re most interested in. The three of us are all pretty closely aligned in the way we think of the broader trajectory of work around land—land-related politics, land development studies, political and moral economy—and yet we work in very different areas.