An Experiment in Early Modern Critical Semantics
The meanings of the words Invention, Language, Resistance, Blood, and World have changed profoundly in their semantic purchase—the way through which cultural change comes to us in the language of life, work, and the body. The study aims to explore a notional century that begins at about 1525, a period of about one hundred and fifty years that embraces the establishment of humanism in Europe beyond Italy. The approach that is introduced in this chapter, however, will not constitute the story of the period through ideas, events, or literary history. Rather, the author takes an oblique approach: to view this century in five words that are to represent what the mass of people in Europe and the Americas believed about their everyday experience—their place in culture, their relationship to the past and present, and how these five words and the culture around them changed together.
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