Turner, Henry S.

Turner, Henry S.

The Corporate Commonwealth: Pluralism and Political Fictions in England

  • Published Date: University of Chicago Press, 2016

Awards and Recognition:
Best Recent Book in English Renaissance Studies, The Elizabeth Dietz Memorial Award

Turner cover designWhat if the dilemma of 21st century political life is not that we have too many corporations but that we have too few? Could a future for the “commons” be written inside a corporate form? The Corporate Commonwealth traces the evolution of corporations during the English Renaissance and explores the many types of corporations that once flourished. Along the way, the book offers important insights into our own definitions of fiction, politics, and value.
The book uses the resources of economic and political history, literary analysis, and political philosophy to demonstrate how a number of English institutions with corporate associations—including universities, guilds, towns and cities, and religious groups—were gradually narrowed to the commercial, for-profit corporation we know today, and how the joint-stock corporation, in turn, became both a template for the modern state and a political force that the state could no longer contain. Through innovative readings of works by Thomas More, William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, and Thomas Hobbes, among others, Turner tracks the corporation from the courts to the stage, from commonwealth to colony, and from the object of utopian fiction to the subject of tragic violence. A provocative look at the corporation’s peculiar character as both an institution and a person, The Corporate Commonwealth uses the past to suggest ways in which today’s corporations might be refashioned into a source of progressive and collective public action.

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Early Modern Theatricality

  • Published Date: Oxford, 2013 

earlymoderntheatricalityEarly Modern Theatricality brings together twenty-nine full-length, original essays by leading scholars in the field, inviting them to test out new methods for capturing the full event of theatre and its immense imaginative resources. Contributors examine the clusters of techniques, objects, bodies, conventions, signs, and other significant elements that characterized early modern performance and that extended beyond the public theaters to public entertainments and spectacles of all types, from the Tudor period to the Restoration. The third volume to appear in the 21st Century Approaches series at Oxford, edited by Paul Strohm, the collection offers an exploded view of theatricality, isolating functional parts, magnifying them for analysis, and integrating them into rigorous, conceptually adventurous statements that aim to provoke a re-discovery of early modern theater in all its formal complexity and wild profusion.

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Shakespeare's Double Helix

  • Published Date: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2008

Henry S. Turner

altWhat does it mean to make life? This book focuses on one of the key questions for culture and science in both Shakespeare's time and our own. Shakespeare wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream during a period when the 'new science' had begun to unsettle the foundations of knowledge about the natural world. Through close analysis of the play and reflection on modern genetic engineering, Professor Turner examines developments in early modern culture as it sought to come to terms with the new forces of magic, astrology, alchemy and mechanics—fields of knowledge that preoccupied the most adventurous intellects of Shakespeare's period and that promised limitless power over nature. Shakespeare's writing sheds light on current developments in science, ethics, law, and religion in contemporary culture. This book reveals the richness and peculiarity of early scientific thought in Shakespeare's time and shows how the questions he poses remain fundamental as the nature of 'life' has become one of the most pressing political, ethical, and philosophical problems for society today.

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The English Renaissance Stage: Geometry, Poetics and the Practical Spatial Arts

  • Published Date: Oxford University Press, 2006

Henry S. Turner

altThe English Renaissance Stage examines the history of English dramatic form and its relationship to mathematics, technology, and early scientific thought during the Renaissance period. The book demonstrates how practical, pre-scientific modes of thinking that were typical of the sixteenth century resulted in new genres of plays and a new vocabulary for problems of poetic representation. In the epistemological moment the book describes, we find new ideas about form and language that would become central to Renaissance literary discourse; in this same moment, too, we find new ways of thinking about the relationship between theory and practice that are typical of modernity, new methods of modeling technical problems, and new attitudes about the importance of technology to the state, as well as to professional self-advancement. By emphasizing the importance of theatrical performance, the book engages with continuing debates over the ideological function of the early modern stage, with theories of performance, and with scholarship on the status of modern authorship. When we consider playwrights in relation to the theater rather than to the printed book, they appear less as "authors" than as figures whose social position and epistemological presuppositions were very similar to the craftsmen, surveyors, and engineers who began to flourish during the sixteenth century and whose mathematical knowledge made them increasingly sought after by men of wealth and power.

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The Culture of Capital: Property, Cities, and Knowledge in Early Modern England

  • Published Date: Routledge, 2002

Henry S. Turner (Editor)

altThe Culture of Capital brings together leading literary critics and historians to reassess one of the defining features of early modern England-the idea of "capital." The collection reevaluates the different aspects of the concept as it emerged amidst the profound economic, social, and technological changes typical of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As the essays move from the birth of private property and the rise of cities to the appearance of the printed book and the claims of modern science, the contributors reveal the nuanced relationships among economic value and other forms of religious, cultural, political, and intellectual value, as well as the persistence of objects, activities, and concepts that resisted becoming "capital" in a modern sense. Offering exemplary models of rigorous theoretical, literary, and historical work, the volume maps the ground for a new, enriched, interdisciplinary history of early modern England.

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