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Five WordsCritical Semantics in the Age of Shakespeare and Cervantes$
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Roland Greene

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226000633

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226000770.001.0001

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An Experiment in Early Modern Critical Semantics

(p.1) Introduction
Five Words

Roland Greene

University of Chicago Press

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.

Keywords:   semantic purchase, cultural change, culture, humanism, literary history

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