The politics of effeminacy in Il cortegiano.
Castiglione's Il cortegiano is a recurrent stomping ground stomp·ing ground
A customary territory or favorite gathering place. Also called stamping ground. for scholars working in gender studies of the Renaissance. While most of these critics have focused on the position of women, there has been a marked interest in the gendering of Castiglione's male figures as well. Such discussions have almost exclusively emphasized the courtiers' anxious and effeminized condition. Any study of masculinity in the Corte--giano must therefore address a now decades-old critical truism that the courtiers' conduct and the courtiers' account of it are "clearly perceived by us" to foster the "'effeminization' of the male feudal elite" (Richards 185).
To briefly summarize such criticism we can reach back to Joan Kelly's classic 1977 article "Did Women Have a Renaissance?" In her essay, Kelly suggested that the courtier's efforts to dominate the court lady marks Castiglione's attempt to "defend against effeminacy Effeminacy
Gainsborough painting depicting princely lad with sissyish overtones. [Br. Art.: Misc.]
Fauntleroy, Little Lord
title-inheriting, yellow-curled sissy in velvet. [Am. Lit. in the courtier" since the courtier's dependency and behavior toward the prince was analogous to the position of women (Kelly 150). The following year, Wayne Rebhorn's Courtly court·ly
adj. court·li·er, court·li·est
1. Suitable for a royal court; stately: courtly furniture and pictures.
2. Elegant; refined: courtly manners. Performances offered a similar criticism by suggesting that the misogynistic mi·sog·y·nis·tic also mi·sog·y·nous
Of or characterized by a hatred of women.
Adj. 1. misogynistic - hating women in particular
ill-natured - having an irritable and unpleasant disposition criticisms of certain characters in the dialogues represent Castiglione's concern "about potential attacks on the courtly ideal for being too effeminate ef·fem·i·nate
1. Having qualities or characteristics more often associated with women than men. See Synonyms at female.
2. Characterized by weakness and excessive refinement. " (42). Rebhorn argues that the courtiers are emasculated e·mas·cu·late
tr.v. e·mas·cu·lat·ed, e·mas·cu·lat·ing, e·mas·cu·lates
1. To castrate.
2. To deprive of strength or vigor; weaken.
Deprived of virility, strength, or vigor. on two counts. They are subjugated sub·ju·gate
tr.v. sub·ju·gat·ed, sub·ju·gat·ing, sub·ju·gates
1. To bring under control; conquer. See Synonyms at defeat.
2. To make subservient; enslave. to princely prince·ly
adj. prince·li·er, prince·li·est
1. Of or relating to a prince; royal.
2. Befitting a prince, as:
a. Noble: a princely bearing.
b. power, and are furthermore under the rule of women (i.e., the Duchess and Emilia Pia). Since the publication of both of these works, all criticism that has addressed the issues of masculinity in the Cortegiano has grown out of a basic principal of an emasculated courtier (whether in relation to the prince or to the Duchess). For example, in her influential 1990 book Renaissance Feminism, Constance Jordan as well addressed the courtiers' powerless condition and related it to a gendered marriage dynamic where the courtier provides diversion for his superiors, an activity that "might be characterized as effeminate" (Jordan 77-78).
The arguments of Kelly, Rebhorn and Jordan are founded on a similar principle which presumes that the courtiers' position to power is an 'effeminized' one. In his book The Absence of Grace, Harry Berger discusses how these three critics perceive Castiglione in the gender debate. Berger's corrective to the argument is to critique the use of the word "misogyny misogyny /mi·sog·y·ny/ (mi-soj´i-ne) hatred of women.
Hatred of women.
mi·sog ." He suggests that the courtiers demonstrate a sort of "gynephobia," a term that he defines as a fear which may be divided into a gynephobia of gender and a gynephobia of sex. He states,
the former is a fear of effeminization, fear of the woman within the man, and the latter is a fear of impotence, emasculation, or infantilization, fear of the woman outside the man ... the former is a fear of having one's status reduced to that of woman but not necessarily by woman; the latter is specifically a fear of having one's status reduced or usurped by women. (71-72)
It is the correlation between gynephobic anxiety and representation anxiety that Berger shows as motivation for the courtiers' attempts to construct gender norms and control their performance.
Berger's thoughtful reading opens a critical approach while leaving a problematic assumption unchallenged. What he does not address is the contingent notion of the term "effeminate." If I may begin my analysis as did Berger, I choose to question a commonly used word in the criticism of the Cortegiano, not "misogyny" but rather "effeminate." Language that indicates effeminacy such as "effeminar" or "feminile" does appear in the Cortegiano but is often left out of discussions of the "effeminate courtier." When critics do claim that the courtier is effeminate, it is at times motivated by an ahistorical a·his·tor·i·cal
Unconcerned with or unrelated to history, historical development, or tradition: "All of this is totally ahistorical. interpretation wherein Renaissance courtly activities and dress may seem un-masculine by modern gender standards. (1) Additionally, scholarship often describes the courtiers as effeminate or fearing effeminacy because there are women in the court society, and specifically in Urbino, these women are invested with authority. Although I have a certain affinity Certain Affinity is an American video game development studio based in Austin, Texas, in the USA. It was founded in 2006 by Max Hoberman and a small number of other ex-Bungie employees and other industry veterans. for this second sort of criticism, which argues that the dialogues are underscored by a gender anxiety, the critical use of the term "effeminate" is ambiguous and may be guided from a cultural bias outside the text.
The distinction between the presence of women at the court and the effeminacy of the court is an important one. David Quint elegantly argues that the women at the Urbino court were integral to the "civilizing process," so described by Elias as the transformation of "soldier-aristocrat into polite courtier" (185). Quint explains how the position of women was likened to that of the prince by their similar power to bestow be·stow
tr.v. be·stowed, be·stow·ing, be·stows
1. To present as a gift or an honor; confer: bestowed high praise on the winners.
2. or withhold grazia, and the courtiers' attempts to achieve this grazia inevitably lead to a civilizing tempering of aggression and cultivation of manners (187-90). The symmetry between the prince and the court lady enables Quint to posit the theory that the anti-woman language and admonition Any formal verbal statement made during a trial by a judge to advise and caution the jury on their duty as jurors, on the admissibility or nonadmissibility of evidence, or on the purpose for which any evidence admitted may be considered by them. of effeminate traits are a displacement of "the resentment that the male courtier feels, but cannot allow himself fully to express, toward the prince" (190).
Although men's service of women may account for some modes of behavior demonstrated by men in the court, Berger's model offers a broader explanation, which holds that both sexes influence the behavior at court through an anxiety-ridden "surveillance" that the culture of sprezzatura creates. (2) My affinity for Berger's argument is driven by an understanding that men, while ostensibly os·ten·si·ble
Represented or appearing as such; ostensive: His ostensible purpose was charity, but his real goal was popularity. in the service of women, are often preoccupied with the opinion of other men. This implicates the courtiers in a position not only of surveillance but also in a homo-social triangular relationship so described by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (b. 1950) is an American theorist in the fields of gender studies, queer theory (queer studies), and critical theory. Influenced by feminism, psychoanalysis, and deconstruction, her work reflects an abiding interest in a wide range of issues and topics, where women are the necessary yet disappearing link in male bonding male bonding Psychology The formation of a close nonsexual relationship between 2 or more men; guy stuff. Cf Bonding. . (3)
Ruth Mazo Karras argues precisely this dynamic in her study on late medieval masculinity. She shows how the construction of masculinity involves a sort of rivalry that claims to be in the service of women yet is invoked primarily to determine the measure of men. The often noted tournaments and jousts held before women were "ostensibly" to please these women, yet the "knights used the display of their appearance at least as much to appeal to the male gaze as the female" (Karras 48). Therefore, while the critical tradition of the Cortegiano seems to argue that the courtly service of women is an "effeminizing process," it is also one on which masculinity depends. As Louise Fradenburg states, the knightly tournament "brings men together but allows them to constitute themselves as 'men,' who fight for and who are watched by women. The 'lady' thus enters the tournament--as spectator, as prize--in part to signify the masculinity of the knight [...] The lady dramatizes the masculinity of the warrior by being what he is not and by watching his effort from another place" (212; ctd. in Karras 48-49). By taking the works of Fradenburg and Karras into consideration, we may therefore need to qualify the work of Quint and others who have seen the courtier's service of women in the Urbino court as a strictly effeminizing dynamic. If the service of women is to be yet another component of homosocial behavior, the category of "effeminate courtier" is shaded by a very masculine discourse of male rivalry.
Additionally, Quint's insightful explanation of the role of women in the "civilizing process" implies that the mere presence of women might be the cause of the effeminization of the courtier. (4) I would suggest that the presence of women might bring about a surprisingly opposite effect. A depiction of the court's gender dynamic may be nuanced by recalling Castiglione's understanding of a binary gender system in which one gender is defined by the presence of the other, "cosi quello non si dee chiamar maschio che non ha la femina, secondo se·con·do
n. pl. se·con·di
The second part in a concert piece, especially the lower part in a piano duet.
[Italian, from Latin secundus, second, following; see sek la diffinizione dell'uno e dell'altro; ne femina quella che non ha maschio" (III, 14). For Castiglione (and a large number of gender theorists), masculinity is relational and defined by the presence of and difference from the feminine, and therefore the presence of women at the court is arguably ar·gu·a·ble
1. Open to argument: an arguable question, still unresolved.
2. That can be argued plausibly; defensible in argument: three arguable points of law. a manner of bolstering the dissimilarities of the genders. One sex provides a foil for the other, a matter that is physically articulated in the beginning of the conversations when the courtiers sit in a circle of man, woman, man, woman, etc. (5) My claim is not in disagreement with those who see the society of women in the court as causing an anxiety of effeminacy, but rather, as I elaborate later, the women of the court might be the cause of a different sort of gender anxiety than has traditionally been considered.
In part, my essay is a response to Jennifer Richards' charge, which sought to "invite reflection upon, or modification of, our habits of reading early modern "elitist e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources. " texts, and to temper the current 'masculinization' of critical reading" (188). Instead of predesignating the courtiers as effeminate, I ask that we consider effeminacy to be a discourse that is co-opted and maneuvered through the pronouncements and actions of the dialogues. In an attempt to trace the construction and contestation of the discourse of effeminacy in the Cortegiano, this essay will first elaborate on the importance of the corporeal Possessing a physical nature; having an objective, tangible existence; being capable of perception by touch and sight.
Under Common Law, corporeal hereditaments are physical objects encompassed in land, including the land itself and any tangible object on it, that can be presence of the speakers to the gender debate and then focus on four episodes where effeminacy is explicitly discussed. By adhering to the textual moments where the courtiers themselves refer to masculine behavior, we find that effeminacy is undeniably a concern of the courtiers. Ultimately I am seeking to offer an alternative to the traditional conclusions that state that Castiglione is defending against effeminacy in the courtier or that "the conversations ... are devoted largely to arguments that serve to console Urbino's male courtiers for the degree to which they are subjected to the women of the court" (Jordan 78). Rather than taking the gender debate to be a reductive re·duc·tive
1. Of or relating to reduction.
2. Relating to, being an instance of, or exhibiting reductionism.
3. Relating to or being an instance of reductivism. one of male anxiety over female rule, Castiglione is potentially arguing that women are an integral and powerful discursive force in the bolstering and policing of a pragmatic masculinity.
It is in Berger's work where we find a kernel of a different sort of gender investigation. He states,
the courtier's dependent political status results in peculiar social demands that call for the redefinition of norms of masculinity. The explicit if informal pedagogy enabling a man to perform as a courtier must also enable a courtier to perform as a man. (68)
Though Berger himself drops this argument to pursue other issues, his work may function as a springboard to explore a new trajectory in Cortegiano gender studies. The dialogues are in fact highly involved in this "call for the redefinition of norms of masculinity," and they will call for a man who is at once a skilled diplomat, gentleman of the court, and even a military protector. The new norms of masculinity bind various discourses of masculinity--the sexual brute, the unlearned merchant, and the military man--to the discourse of the increasingly complex politics of the sixteenth-century Italian courts. To repeat Berger's words, the masculine curriculum laid out by the dialogues require the men of the court to "perform as a courtier" while this courtier performs "as a man."
In this process of redefining masculinity, the admonishments of effeminacy may seem to be little more than guidelines that censure certain comportment com·port·ment
Noun 1. comportment - dignified manner or conduct
mien, bearing, presence
personal manner, manner - a way of acting or behaving , dress and leisurely activities. However, these evocations of effeminacy will be shown to not be mere aesthetic correctives but rather are part of a rhetorical strategy where the discourse of effeminacy is manipulated into one of 'national security.' When Ottaviano reproves effeminacy in Book IV, I follow Richards' assertion that "we must be careful not to take Ottaviano's pronouncements at face value" (Richards 196). This is no tedious character who censures clothing or behavior so that he may see men dress and walk differently. Instead, the shrewd Ottaviano understands the efficacious nature of gender shaming and uses the discourse of effeminacy as rhetorical persuasion. He shows himself to be a courtier-orator who may be concerned less with women or male dress than with the political pragmatism his statements might incite To arouse; urge; provoke; encourage; spur on; goad; stir up; instigate; set in motion; as in to incite a riot. Also, generally, in Criminal Law to instigate, persuade, or move another to commit a crime; in this sense nearly synonymous with abet. . Musings on appropriate performances of dress or dance are thereby not a criticism of ornament as much as a technique mobilized to police and/or generate certain forms of masculinity. We will find that dance, dress and musicianship of the courtly man may not be seen to be entirely mutually exclusive Adj. 1. mutually exclusive - unable to be both true at the same time
incompatible - not compatible; "incompatible personalities"; "incompatible colors" with the man of arms. Rather, the courtiers will qualify such discourses as effeminate when it conveniently fits their rhetorical needs. The courtiers suggest several modes of masculine behavior, with Ottaviano focusing on a sort of functional and "civil manliness" within the context of the court during the politically volatile early sixteenth century. (6)
Defining Norms of Masculinity
Even before the court occupants gather for their discussions on the ideal courtier in chapter 6, Castiglione tells that the courtiers habitually hold conversations in the apartments of the duchess. (7) Many studies have noted the metaphoric distance of this setting from the mundane vicissitudes vicissitudes
changes in circumstance or fortune [Latin vicis change]
vicissitudes npl → vicisitudes fpl; peripecias fpl of sixteenth-century Italy, and Thomas Greene Thomas Greene was the Proprietary Governor of the colony of Maryland from 1647 to 1648 or 1649. He was appointed by the royally chartered proprietor of Maryland, Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, to replace Leonard Calvert, who had been the first Governor of the colony. goes so far to call the apartments a "feminine enclosed space Noun 1. enclosed space - space that is surrounded by something
space - an empty area (usually bounded in some way between things); "the architect left space in front of the building"; "they stopped at an open space in the jungle"; "the space between ." (8) The apartments of the duchess are in fact, far from the epic and military masculinity of other rooms in the palace such as the studiolo, where images of humanistic learning, arms and legendary leaders were intentionally inscribed in·scribe
tr.v. in·scribed, in·scrib·ing, in·scribes
a. To write, print, carve, or engrave (words or letters) on or in a surface.
b. To mark or engrave (a surface) with words or letters. by the late Duke Federico. The gendering of architectural space in the text is significant in part due to the rooms (and discourses of manliness) the dialogues avoid, staying far a field from a type of masculinity that has been characterized as the virile virile /vir·ile/ (vir´il)
2. specifically, having male copulative power.
1. Roman model (Richards 188). By avoiding the masculine programme designed by the late Federico, Castiglione somewhat neutralizes the burden of a traditional established masculinity. Thus this stage is not an effeminate or feminized space but rather one that allows for the redefining of gender norms as we will see with the ever-rivaling models of manliness.
In chapter 4, before the arrival of Pope Julius Pope Julius could refer to:
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. Emilia Pia) demonstrate virtues of men. Thus, men and women are participating in a reflexive (theory) reflexive - A relation R is reflexive if, for all x, x R x.
Equivalence relations, pre-orders, partial orders and total orders are all reflexive. gender act that promotes if not androgyny Androgyny
half-man, half-woman; offspring of Hermes and Aphrodite. [Gk. Myth.: Hall, 153]
Cretan maiden reared as boy because father ordered all daughters killed. [Gk. Myth. , the flow of gender identities.
This language of gender imitation and chains of love that characterizes chapter 4 ends with the intrusion of the delegation of Pope Julius II Pope Julius II (December 5, 1443 – February 21, 1513), born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513. His reign was marked by an aggressive foreign policy and ambitious building projects. He is commonly known as the "Warrior Pope". . When the new group of courtiers joins the palace, the activities continue in their usual manner, but with slight changes, "si continuava nell'usato stile delle feste Feste
playful fool. [Br. Lit.: Twelfth Night]
See : Clowns e piaceri ordinari, ma ognuno si sforzava d'acrescere qualche cosa" (I, 6). The addition of new courtiers, especially these companions of the Pope who are returning from a military victory in Bologna, marks an episode of transition, competition and possibly more traditional conceptions of masculinity. It is this moment that is the setting for the Cortegiano.
What is tricky about this social order described by Castiglione is that he has penned his tract with men and women as corporeally cor·po·re·al
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of the body. See Synonyms at bodily.
2. Of a material nature; tangible. present interlocutors. The politics of gender thus are challenged by the realities of the speakers' sexuality and bodily discourses. When the men begin their rhetorical acrobatics acrobatics
Art of jumping, tumbling, and balancing. The art is of ancient origin; acrobats performed leaps, somersaults, and vaults at Egyptian and Greek events. Acrobatic feats were featured in the commedia dell'arte theatre in Europe and in jingxi (“Peking in discussing the ideal courtier, the discussion quickly turns to the thorny and perilous subject of male beauty and the masculine body, placing their own bodies in the center of discussion. (9)
As the courtiers issue harsh criticism against any behavior they perceive as effeminate, the male body and its classical association with the feminine are an obvious focal point focal point
See focus. for their concern. Although Ludovico Canossa and Gaspar Pallavicino cannot agree upon whether the ideal courtier should be of noble birth or not, it is interesting that both men place great emphasis on the beauty of the courtier. Canossa wishes that the courtier be noble, wise, and have a beautiful face and body (bella forma di persona e di volto; I, 14). Gasparo instead states that even one born of non-noble parents may have the qualities of perfection including a beautiful face (bellezza di volto; I, 15).
The discussions continue for several chapters, when Bernardo Bibbiena introduces the first real challenge to the game. Although the question of nobility has been dropped as an unresolved issue, Bibbiena chooses to return to the concept of male beauty. He interrupts the direction of the conversation to reintroduce Re`in`tro`duce´
v. t. 1. To introduce again.
Verb 1. reintroduce - introduce anew; "We haven't met in a long time, so let me reintroduce myself"
re-introduce the topic and draw the conversation onto his own body, bemoaning his disproportionately thin legs:
but as to the beauty of my person, I am rather doubtful, and especially as to these legs of mine which in truth do not seem to me as well disposed as I could wish; as to my chest and the rest, I am quite well enough satisfied. Now do determine a little more in detail what this beauty of body should be, so that I can extricate myself from doubt and put my mind at ease. (I, 19) ma della forma del corpo sto io alquanto dubbioso, e massimamente per queste mie gambe, che in vero non mi paiono cosi atte com'io vorrei; del busto e del resto contentomi pur assai bene. Dichiarate adunque un poco piu minutamente questa forma del corpo, quale abbia ella da essere, accio che io possa levarmi di questo dubbio e star con l'animo riposato. (I, 19)
Bibbiena is the primary comic figure of the Cortegiano, and his comments elicit laughter from the courtiers just as they do from the reader today. The moment of comedy is answered in surprisingly violent terms. Count Canossa responds initially by placating pla·cate
tr.v. pla·cat·ed, pla·cat·ing, pla·cates
To allay the anger of, especially by making concessions; appease. See Synonyms at pacify. Bibbiena and telling him that in truth his face is handsome for it is virile, but instead of answering the posed question about whether Bibbiena's legs were as well built as his chest, the count begins a diatribe di·a·tribe
A bitter, abusive denunciation.
[Latin diatriba, learned discourse, from Greek diatrib against the effeminate qualities of certain men, who should be treated like "harlots" and kicked out of the company of gentlemen (consorzio degli omini nobili). He states,
[your face] has something manly about it, and yet is full of grace.... I would have our Courtier's face be such, not so soft and feminine as many attempt to have who not only curl their hair and pluck their eyebrows, but preen themselves in all those ways that the most wanton and dissolute women in the world adopt; and in walking, in posture, and in every act, appear so tender and languid that their limbs seems to be on the verge of falling apart; and utter their words so limply that it seems they are about to expire on the spot; and the more they find themselves in the company of men of rank, the more they make a show of such manners. These, since nature did not make them women as they clearly wish to appear and be, should be treated not as good women, but as public harlots, and driven not only from the courts of great lords but from the society of all noble men. (I, 19) Certo quella grazia del volto, senza mentire, dir si po esser in voi ... tien del virile, e pur e grazioso.... E di tal sorte voglio io che sia lo aspetto del nostro cortegiano, non cosi molle e feminile come si sforzano d'aver molti, che non solamente si crepano i capegli e spelano le ciglia, ma si strisciano con tutti que' modi che si facciano le pih lascive e disoneste femine del mondo; e pare che nello andare, nello stare ed in ogni altro lor atto siano tanto teneri e languidi, che le membra siano per staccarsi loro l'uno dall'altro; e pronunziano quelle parole cosi afflitte, che in quel punto par che lo spirito loro finisca; e quanto piu si trovano con omini di grado, tanto piu usano tai termini. Questi, poiche la natura, ha fatti femine, dovrebbono non come bone femine esser estimati, ma, come publiche meretrici, non solamente delle corti de' gran signori, ma del consorzio degli omini nobili esser cacciati. (I, 19)
The comical comment of Bibbiena caused what could be seen as an inappropriately strong reaction. The count's castigating words serve to communicate to the group that something has gone very awry in the gender discourse, and that this "consorzio degli omini nobili" is prepared to expel ex·pel
tr.v. ex·pelled, ex·pel·ling, ex·pels
1. To force or drive out: expel an invader.
2. members of its ranks if they demonstrate "effeminate" (feminile) characteristics such as plucking Plucking describes the process of removing human hair, animal hair, or a bird's feathers by mechanically pulling the item from the owner's body.
In humans, this is done for personal grooming purposes, usually with tweezers. An epilator is a motorised hair plucker. their eyebrows, having a limp wrist Limp Wrist is an all-gay straight edge hardcore punk band featuring members of Los Crudos, Hail Mary, Devoid of Faith and Kill the Man Who Questions.
Referring to their style of hardcore punk music, the band declared in Frontiers and using flowery flow·er·y
adj. flow·er·i·er, flow·er·i·est
1. Of, relating to, or suggestive of flowers: a flowery perfume.
2. Abounding in or covered with flowers.
As will happen throughout the text, the Count then redirects the conversation from the participants themselves to abstract ideals. This case of Bibbiena, however, is not allowed to rest. Two chapters later, the duchess declares that she will punish Bibbiena for infringements on the rules of the game as he asked advice instead of offering information. The episode can obviously be seen as an investigation into the ways that power is vicariously vi·car·i·ous
1. Felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience or feelings of another: read about mountain climbing and experienced vicarious thrills.
2. constructed through ludic lu·dic
Of or relating to play or playfulness: "Fiction . . . now makes [language] strategies, but it seems to expose yet another dynamic of masculine norms. Ostensibly Bibbiena's error was to break the rhetorical rules of the game, but it is an infringement that virtually all of the courtiers will make throughout the text. What one wonders is how Bibbiena's question about his legs acted as a catalyst for such a lengthy criticism of effeminacy, and furthermore, how are these issues related to social stability structured by rules and infringements?
When Bibbiena asks that the others gaze upon his body and offer their opinions about his muscular chest and lackluster thighs, he infringes on more historic rules of masculine behavior. Most gender theory demonstrates that since Aristotle, the mind has been gendered as masculine and the body as feminine. Calvin Thomas's work on men's bodies addresses the specific feminizing problem of the representation and specularization of the male figure. He states,
the traditional relationship between men and their bodies has never been a spoken one, rather it has been marked by a profound if not pronounced anxiety, one that refuses to speak, refuses to see. In the construction of normative masculinity, the question of the body--of its speakability, its visibility, its representability--historically has been displaced onto the other, onto the feminine. (Thomas 11-12)
If we believe what Thomas has to say about the displacement of the male body onto the feminine, then it seems that Bernardo Bibbiena has offended not only by breaking the rhetorical rules of the courtiers' game, but by breaking a primary rule of masculinity. His remarks make explicit the otherwise tacit game of men watching men, and he subtracts women from the safe triangular mechanism of homosocial behavior so described by Sedgwick. Thus, by feminizing his own body, or worse, implicating im·pli·cate
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.
2. all of the men in the specularization and consequent effeminization of the male body, Bibbiena threatens the homosocial structure of the gathering and therefore threatens the stability of the community.
What becomes apparent is that these speakers are in fact preoccupied with the potential effeminacy of men. Gender, like ideal courtly behavior, will be codified cod·i·fy
tr.v. cod·i·fied, cod·i·fy·ing, cod·i·fies
1. To reduce to a code: codify laws.
2. To arrange or systematize. in aesthetic terms with an urgency that always suggests an underlying political motivation. As the courtiers specifically identify "effeminate" acts, we must ask why have these behaviors been singled out as womanly wom·an·ly
adj. wom·an·li·er, wom·an·li·est
1. Having qualities generally attributed to a woman.
2. Belonging to or representative of a woman; feminine: womanly attire. ? Why do the courtiers castigate cas·ti·gate
tr.v. cas·ti·gat·ed, cas·ti·gat·ing, cas·ti·gates
1. To inflict severe punishment on. See Synonyms at punish.
2. To criticize severely. their fellow men as "sissies" as not "doing gender right"? (10)
The three chapters (II, 26-28) dedicated to male dress are politically charged. They begin when the speaker tells of the vice of certain men who prefer to speak with well-dressed men rather than with their friends. To this topic Giuliano responds with a question, the updated version of which could be found on the cover of any number of men's magazines This is a list of magazines primarily marketed to men. The list has been split into subcategories according to the target audience of the magazines. This list includes both 'adult' magazines as well as more mainstream ones. : "what does a man wear?" To be specific, he asks what a courtier should wear, and it is a distinction that implies how a man can demonstrate his class, political affiliation and gender simultaneously without one threatening the others. Giuliano's primary concern is the confusion that foreign influences on fashion had provoked beginning as early as the fourteenth-century. As a solution to the foreign sartorial sar·to·ri·al
Of or relating to a tailor, tailoring, or tailored clothing: sartorial elegance.
[From Late Latin sartor, tailor; see sartorius. confusion, Federico (the primary speaker of Book II) responds that men should dress as they please as long as they follow custom. Therefore they can freely dress in the fashion of Spaniards, French, Germans or Turks. But his response continues by adding that the presence of these foreign fashions is a material sign of Italian colonization.
Amedeo Quondam quon·dam
That once was; former: "the quondam drunkard, now perfectly sober" Bret Harte. takes up this argument at length in his study on the Cortegiano. He states that the self-representation that is visually communicated through dress produced the "character of one's 'nation,'" "questo codice comunicativo dell'identita di ciascuno attraverso i segni del suo abito produce anche--per remoto, topico, assioma--il carattere della propria pro·pri·a
Plural of proprium. 'nazione'" (Quondam 385). Underneath this guise of fashion is a metaphor of political alliance (i.e., which prince should one choose in this 'confusion'), as well as a very material alliance that would demonstrate one's affiliation. (One might draw a parallel here with drinking French wine or driving German cars in the American political climate in the months leading up to the American invasion of Iraq.) That is, one could possibly be seen as an Imperial sympathizer sym·pa·thize
intr.v. sym·pa·thized, sym·pa·thiz·ing, sym·pa·thiz·es
1. To feel or express compassion, as for another's suffering; commiserate.
2. from the hat one chooses to wear. Federico longs for a fashion that one might recognize as "Italian," and his musings on dress begin to draw interesting parallels between reading the language of clothing and a legible leg·i·ble
1. Possible to read or decipher: legible handwriting.
2. Plainly discernible; apparent: legible weaknesses in character and disposition. sign structure of political servitude servitude
In property law, a right by which property owned by one person is subject to a specified use or enjoyment by another. Servitudes allow people to create stable long-term arrangements for a wide variety of purposes, including shared land uses; maintaining the :
But I do not know by what fate it happens that Italy does not have, as she used to have, a manner of dress recognized to be Italian: for although the introduction of these new fashions makes the former ones seem very crude, still the older were perhaps a sign of freedom, even as the new ones have proved to be an augury of servitude, which I think is now most evidently fulfilled. (II, 26) Ma io non so per qual fato intervenga chela Italia non abbia come soleva avere, abito che sia conosciuto per italiano: che, benche lo aver posto in usanza questi novi faccia parer quelli primi goffissimi, pur quelli forse erano segno di liberta, come questi son stati augurio di servith; il qual ormai parmi assai chiaramente adempiuto. (II, 26)
As Quondam will argue, Castiglione draws the important connection between Italian dress and contemporary politics, stating that fashion is homologous homologous /ho·mol·o·gous/ (ho-mol´ah-gus)
1. corresponding in structure, position, origin, etc.
1. to the subjugated Italian condition (386). This connection is strengthened through the lexical choice of the verb "subiugarci" to complain of the sartorial state of affairs as well as the French incursions into Italy, "gli Francesi col suo non sapere lettere avere subiugato Italia" (I, 43). The verb is notably found here in Federico's comments on fashion trends:
L'aver noi mutato gli abiti italiani ne i stranieri parmi che significasse tutti quelli negli abiti de' quali i nostri erano trasformati, dever venire a subiugarci; il che e stato troppo piu che vero, che ormai non resta nazione che di noi non abbia fatto preda. (II, 26)
As is apparent, the discussion becomes dangerously close to a full debate on Italy's occupied condition, but in typical Castiglione style, the dialogues defer deliberating the situation. Instead, Federico changes his focus to male aesthetics, which Quondam suggests will indicate an attempt to build a better fashion (and cultural identity), an Italian one that defines itself as the "giusto mezzo mez·zo
n. pl. mez·zos
Music moderately; quite: mezzo-forte
pl -zos " between foreign extremes (387).
Federico wishes that men would avoid excesses in dress, and he defines the arbitrary concepts of fashion with precision. Regardless of his earlier words where he said that men were free to dress as they choose, it does not seem that men have freedom in choosing clothes at all. The basic rules are simple, men should wear only dark colors unless it is a festival occasion, and he will then begin a long, biting discussion on the fashions of contemporary men. Federico criticizes those men who fix their hair, whiten their teeth and pay too close attention to their boots and beards:
I wish our Courtier to be neat and dainty in his attire, and observe a certain modest elegance, yet not in a feminine or vain fashion. Nor would I have him more careful of one thing than of another, like many we see, that take such pains with their hair that they forget the rest; others attend to their teeth, others to their beard, others to their boots, others to their bonnets.... (II, 27) (11) Voglio che 'l nostro cortegiano in tutto l'abito sia pulito e delicato ed abbia una certa conformita di modesta attillatura, ma non pero di manera feminile o vana, ne piu in una cosa che nell'altra, come molti ne vedemo, che pongon tanto studio nella capigliara, che si scordano il resto; altri fan professione de denti, altri di barba, altri di borzachini (stivaletti), altri di cuffie.... (II, 27)
Here, a man risks being "feminile e vana," and he warns the courtiers to pay attention to what type of man they wish to be taken for, and then dress accordingly; "aggiungendovi ancor che debba fra se stesso deliberar cio che vol parere e di quella sorte che desidera esser estimato, della medesima vestirsi" (II, 27). Federico's advice is motivated by his belief that a person's spirit is reflected by his external appearance, a philosophy that he repeats twice. Specifically, he states, that walking, laughing and looking make manifest what is inside a man: "'I passeggiare, ridere, guardare e tai cose, siano operazioni; e pur tutto questo di fuori da notizia spesso diquel dentro" (II, 28). This moralization mor·al·ize
v. mor·al·ized, mor·al·iz·ing, mor·al·iz·es
To think about or express moral judgments or reflections.
1. To interpret or explain the moral meaning of. of aesthetics is instrumental in explaining the emphasis placed on appearance and behavior where self-fashioning might not express exactly who the courtier is but who the courtier wishes to appear, certainly an idea congruous con·gru·ous
1. Corresponding in character or kind; appropriate or harmonious.
2. Mathematics Congruent.
[From Latin congruus, from congruere, with Berger's concept of the sprezzatura of suspicion. (12)
The anxiety that underscores Federico's advice on self-representation is one that results from a mechanism where the courtier is attentive to dressing the masculine role for which he wishes to be esteemed outwardly out·ward·ly
1. On the outside or exterior; externally.
2. Toward the outside.
3. In regard to outward condition, conduct, or manifestation: outwardly a perfect gentleman. , but he is also acutely aware that it is precisely this codification The collection and systematic arrangement, usually by subject, of the laws of a state or country, or the statutory provisions, rules, and regulations that govern a specific area or subject of law or practice. of dress that will communicate his identity or "quel dentro." Moreover, this concern with dress is also related to the anxiety of the state of Italian political affairs Political Affairs has several meanings:
king to whom God sold Israelites. [O.T.: Judges 3:8]
consigned to servitude in retribution for trickery. [O.T.: Joshua 9:22–27]
curses him and progeny to servitude. [O. " to foreign powers, a decidedly masculine posturing.
If we look again at his request that the courtier dress in clean and delicate clothes "pulito e delicato" but not in a feminine or vain manner "manera feminile o vana," we find advice that is at best ambiguous. It may be that Federico is not as concerned with the cosmetic appearance of the courtiers as has usually been believed. For though any man would be hard pressed to use these prescriptive words as a dressing guide, he would certainly be aware of the proximity of "delicato" (presumably what courtiers want) and "feminile" (the shameful quality to be avoided). This ambiguity of advice clearly raises a level of gender anxiety for the man who seeks to follow Federico's words, and it may be that Federico is not preoccupied with clothing choices but is rather utilizing the discourse of effeminacy to aid him in imposing his Italian political agenda. He will lay threats and accusations of being "feminile," using jokes about teeth, beards, boots and bangs, as a character shaming technique rather than an aesthetic one. In this contextual reading, the term "effeminate courtier" assumes a new, darker meaning, one that highlights the fear of the judgment of others and the inability to safeguard oneself from castigation.
A man may dress as he pleases, but he can never be assured that he will not be called effeminate as there is no comprehensive and easy distinction between appropriate dress and womanly dress. Moreover, this shaming mechanism functions as well to raise a political self-consciousness, where this proper dress implies proper politics and emboldens a resistance to foreign occupation. Federico has fashioned his ideal courtier in vestments that are self-consciously, if not anxiously, civil and laden with political resolve. Federico's anxious courtier who is most likely at a loss on how to dress, knows that not only his fashion but his political loyalties are being scrutinized, and he has been charged with demonstrating the better and Italian "giusto mezzo" between the extremes of foreigners. He is one of the models of masculinity that will be proposed throughout the dialogue, and he is a proposed version of Italian "civil manliness" so suggested by Richards.
Federico's technique of using effeminacy as a shaming technique is a topic to which I will return, but in this instance we can note that the sixteenth-century man was at odds in how to balance the necessity of being "well-dressed" and avoiding the shame of being called womanly. Furthermore, what is striking is that Castiglione devotes a large section to male costume and leaves female costume virtually out of the text. The situation is ironic primarily in light of the Renaissance obsession with women's clothing and sumptuary sump·tu·ar·y
1. Regulating or limiting personal expenditures.
a. Regulating commercial or real-estate activities: legislation that sought to control women's dress. (13) If one were to focus only on legal documents of the period, it would seem that men's dress was unproblematic. What we may be able to hypothesize hy·poth·e·size
v. hy·poth·e·sized, hy·poth·e·siz·ing, hy·poth·e·siz·es
To assert as a hypothesis.
To form a hypothesis. from this text is that the behavior of men versus that of women is governed in different ways in regards to aesthetics. (14) A starting hypothesis might be stated as such--where women were legislated (e.g., sumptuary laws sumptuary laws (sŭmp`chĕ'rē), regulations based on social, religious, or moral grounds directed against overindulgence of luxury in diet and drink and extravagance in dress and ), men were more often than not shamed by their peers. Dress for both sexes is a focal point of gender, class and political identity, but for men specifically, it is a critical conun-drum, where dressing for one's class may endanger dressing one's gender and dressing one's gender implies a sort of 'national security.'
Much discussion in the Cortegiano is devoted to the arts of music, painting and dancing. The scholarship addressing the representation of these arts in the text describes them either as mere ornaments or physical expressions of the feudal power structure. (15) Gasparo and Canossa debate whether or not the courtier should be a musician. Gasparo states that music is for women and for those who have the appearance of men, but not for real men, "hanno similitudine d'omini, ma non a quelli che veramente sono" (I, 47) and his reasoning is that music renders their minds effeminate and afraid of death. In response to this accusation, Canossa begins his exceptionally long praise of music, which tells of music's utility, especially in military endeavors.
Yet again, the issue of the effeminate courtier has inspired a lengthy debate. We may ask what is fundamentally "feminine" about the musician? From Gasparo's interjection interjection, English part of speech consisting of exclamatory words such as oh, alas, and ouch. They are marked by a feature of intonation that is usually shown in writing by an exclamation point (see punctuation). , it is evident that Castiglione's contemporaries attacked music as a non-masculine activity. Gasparo uses this accusation of "effeminare" and "real-men" as a technique to control the behavior of men, that is, to discourage their practice of music through gender-shaming.
The persuasive technique of gender shaming was used to shun Shun
In Chinese mythology, one of the three legendary emperors, along with Yao and Da Yu, of the golden age of antiquity (c. 23rd century BC), singled out by Confucius as models of integrity and virtue. "effeminate" dress in Book II and to punish Bibbiena's question about his muscular legs in Book I, but this occurrence of gender shaming differs from the aforementioned examples. Firstly, since Count Canossa responds to Gasparo's insult of the male musician in a lengthy praise of music, there is no one discourse that prevails. Thus, it is impossible to know whether Castiglione's speakers believe music to be effeminate or not. Secondly, Gasparo's accusation of effeminate musicians demonstrates a strange separation of the gender-sex divide. That is, Gasparo proposes that musicians may have the appearance of men but are not "real men". This model of sex/gender differs from the one proposed by Federico who stated that men should dress as the man that they wish to esteemed. Federico provided men with a certain agency to fashion their gender according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the appropriate mode, be it effeminate, delicate, brutish brut·ish
1. Of or characteristic of a brute.
2. Crude in feeling or manner.
3. Sensual; carnal.
4. etc. Instead, Gasparo displays a much darker version of masculinity, in that some men, simply put, are not "real men." Thus those who have beards, wear black, essentially those who have male genitalia genitalia /gen·i·ta·lia/ (jen?i-tal´e-ah) [L.] the reproductive organs.
ambiguous genitalia , may seem to be men but are not. Beneath this veneer of a male musician lurks a dangerous specter of a woman. And accordingly, Gasparo's model triggers the kind of fear described by Berger's gynephobia of gender, "fear of the woman within the man" (71). By excluding the possibility of claiming a gendered identity based on sex, Gasparo places men (especially male musicians) at a crisis point. His statement ostensibly puts gender on the line: either men will follow his advice or have virtually no recourse to a masculine identity. Though what makes Gasparo's model more anxious is that if the "effeminate" man follows Gasparo's advice and is not a musician, the man would only be masking the woman inside, in a sense invoking a double masquerade, one that is his bodily appearance (genitals gen·i·tals
Genitalia. , beard, etc.) and the second being contrived through manly behavior. The critical difference between these models of masculinity is that Federico suggests that a man's outside appearance is bound to an internal identity, where Gasparo separates performance from self-expression, a divide which again raises self-consciousness and anxiety.
Finally, no matter how Canossa defends music, it seems that Gasparo's words preclude music from being manly, for a "natural" manliness presupposes not being a musician. The question is whether Gasparo is sincerely concerned with music playing or not. It seems that what his gender model might suggest is that men should mask any traits of effeminacy that might be natural to them, and that again this behavioral correction will be related to a political discourse. Just as I put forth that Federico's real concern was Italy's political condition and not the dress of the courtiers, what I will ultimately try to show is that these statements on dress, music and dance express much less a concern with a restructuring of so-called effeminate behavior than with a restructuring of the political situation of sixteenth-century Italy: that the courtiers are more concerned with men "fearing death" than they are with men playing the viola da gamba viola da gamba: see viol. .
Dancing is discussed no fewer than seven times by the courtiers, and thus not surprisingly, the Cortegiano is a popular source document for theorists and historians of Renaissance dance Renaissance dances belong to the broad group of historical dances.
While we know that people danced in Europe long before the Renaissance, the first detailed dance manuals that survive today were written in 1450 and 1455 in Italy. . (16) Even more than music, dancing complicates issues of masculinity in that it involves the male body as spectacle. According to Stephen Kolsky, Castiglione argues that the courtier must learn and internalize internalize
To send a customer order from a brokerage firm to the firm's own specialist or market maker. Internalizing an order allows a broker to share in the profit (spread between the bid and ask) of executing the order. the codes of dance, which control the irrational body, and in turn this dancing demonstrates the power of order. Mark Franko prefigures Kolsky's research by emphasizing the corporeal manifestation of discourses of power, stating that society imposes "a fantasmatic institutionalized in·sti·tu·tion·al·ize
tr.v. in·sti·tu·tion·al·ized, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·ing, in·sti·tu·tion·al·iz·es
a. To make into, treat as, or give the character of an institution to.
b. identity upon the individual" where the body is specifically the stage of these discourses (Franko 55).
Dance is critical to my own research in that it may provide a key to investigating the problematic marriage of the male body and civility. As we know, from Aristotle to Kant and beyond the mind has been associated with the masculine while the body is relegated to the feminine. Dancing thus causes men to feel not only performance anxiety but possibly also a gender-performance anxiety.
It is therefore not surprising that we find the courtiers demonstrating a certain concern about their dancing performances. There are in fact several mentionings of bad dancing by our courtiers. These left-footed men are openly criticized and shamed by their peers and even women of the court for dancing increased the possibility of failure through bodily transgression TRANSGRESSION. The violation of a law. . It was a performance that could contribute to or detract from detract from
verb 1. lessen, reduce, diminish, lower, take away from, derogate, devaluate << OPPOSITE enhance
verb 2. a courtier's reputation at court. When the count describes how the art is dependent on the dissimulation dis·sim·u·la·tion
Concealment of the truth about a situation, especially about a state of health, as by a malingerer. of artifice ar·ti·fice
1. An artful or crafty expedient; a stratagem. See Synonyms at wile.
2. Subtle but base deception; trickery.
3. Cleverness or skill; ingenuity. , he uses the courtier Pierpaulo's exaggerated dancing as the counter example of sprezzatura. Bibbiena adds that another courtier, Roberto, allows his clothes to fall off as he moves along the dance floor, and he calls such exaggerated nonchalance "affettazione" (I, 26-27). Clearly men are watching and judging other men dance, even though Cesare Fregosa claims that the only reason men learn to dance is to please women (III, 52). (17) The situation plays out the sort of homosocial rivalry discussed above that Karras observes in the jousting jousting
Medieval Western European mock battle between two horsemen who charged at each other with leveled lances in an attempt to unseat the other. It probably originated in France in the 11th century, superseding the mêlée, in which mock battles were held between tournaments of the late medieval knights. Though the public is ostensibly and explicitly given to be women, the men use the service of women to measure their own masculine success against other men.
The 'enjoyable' respite of dancing may jeopardize a man's identity and thus cause him to consider how his masculinity is to be maintained. The rules of dance distinguish classes, offering a chance for a man "to signify distinctions separating the perfect courtier from other courtiers and from other social classes" (Kolsky 11). They also allow men close proximity with women, and thus dancing enters into a whole system of the erotic codes of courtship, an issue that received much attention from dance theorists of Castiglione's time such as Guglielmo da Pesaro. But what studies on dance have ignored is that because dancing is a public performance where the spectacle is the body, it places the man in a position that modern theorists such as Elizabeth Grosz Elizabeth A. Grosz is a feminist academic living and working in the USA. She is known for philosophical interpretations of the work of French philosophers Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, as well as her readings of the works of French feminists, , Stephen Frosh, Calvin Thomas This article is about the linguist. For the contemporary critical theorist, see Calvin Thomas (critical theorist).
Calvin Thomas (1854 - 1919) was an American scholar who served as professor of Germanic languages and literature at Columbia University. and others would call "effeminate" (Grosz grosz
n. pl. gro·szy
See Table at currency.
[Polish, from Czech gro 173, Frosh 90-104, Thomas 11-12).
In book IV, Ottaviano begins his famous speech on the purpose of the courtier by criticizing many of the acts of the courtier as shameful. He states that certain activities are not to be honored but blamed, that they are for women not men, that they have effeminized the minds and spirits of Italians, that even the name Italian itself is equated with opprobrium OPPROBRIUM, civil law. Ignominy; shame; infamy. (q.v.) , and finally, as a result of all of the above, Italy is a pathetic site of occupied states (IV, 4). In a sweeping speech of terror that resembles the sermons of Savonarola or San Bernardino San Bernardino, city, United States
San Bernardino (săn bûr'nədē`nō), city (1990 pop. 164,164), seat of San Bernardino co., S Calif., at the foot of the San Bernardino Mts.; inc. 1854. , Ottaviano effectively blames dancing, singing and festivities fes·tiv·i·ty
n. pl. fes·tiv·i·ties
1. A joyous feast, holiday, or celebration; a festival.
2. The pleasure, joy, and gaiety of a festival or celebration.
3. for turning Italian men into women and permitting the foreign occupation of Italy:
I should say that many of those accomplishments that have been attributed to our Courtier (such as dancing, merrymaking, singing, and playing) were frivolities and vanities and, in a man of any rank, deserving of blame rather than of praise; for these elegances of dress, devices, mottoes, and other such things as pertain to women and love (although many will think the contrary), often serve to merely make spirits effeminate, to corrupt youth, and to lead to a dissolute life; whence it comes about that the Italian name is reduced to opprobrium, and there are but few who dare, I will not say to die, but even to risk any danger. (IV, 4) anzi direi che molte di quelle condicioni che se gli sono attribuite, come il danzar, festeggiar, cantar e giocare, fossero leggerezze e vanita, ed in un omo di grado piu tosto degne di biasimo che di laude; perche queste attillature, imprese, motti ed altre tai cose che appartengono ad intertenimenti di donne e d'amori, ancora che forse a molti altri paia il contrario, spesso non fanno altro che effeminar gli animi, corrumper la gioventh e ridurla a vita lascivissima; onde nascono poi questi effetti che 'l nome italiano e ridutto in obbrobrio, ne si ritrovano se non pochi che osino non diro morire, ma pur entrare in uno pericolo. (IV, 4)
Not surprisingly, it is a speech, ignored by studies that advocate the political exigency of dancing in the Cortegiano.
Again repeating the claim of Richards, I suggest that Ottaviano is not necessarily to be taken at his word. Ottaviano may himself be playing a rhetorical game. Is Ottaviano really attacking the coded and civilized behavior of dancing, dress and speaking by the courtiers because he wishes to see men dance, dress and speak differently? Or is he simply trying to use a persuasive technique to achieve his more political aim?
In the fourth book it is clear that Ottaviano wishes to change the political situation of Italy. Critics such as Richards will go so far as to even indicate a transgressive trans·gres·sive
1. Exceeding a limit or boundary, especially of social acceptability.
2. Of or relating to a genre of fiction, filmmaking, or art characterized by graphic depictions of behavior that violates socially republicanism hidden beneath his adulations of princes. (18) I would add that he chooses to attack seemingly unrelated behaviors (dress, dance, games) as a rhetorical vehicle to criticize issues such as political ineffectiveness and tyranny. The similarity between his diatribe and the evangelical sermons of the Quattrocento quat·tro·cen·to
The 15th-century period of Italian art and literature.
[Italian, short for (mil) quattrocento, one thousand four hundred : quattro, four (from Latin is notable. As did the priests of fire and brimstone fire and brimstone
1. The punishment of hell.
2. Homiletic rhetoric describing or warning of the punishment of hell.
Noun 1. , Ottaviano blames the pathetic condition of Italy on the feminization feminization /fem·i·ni·za·tion/ (fem?i-ni-za´shun)
1. the normal development of primary and secondary sex characters in females.
2. the induction or development of female secondary sex characters in the male. of society and leaders who allow themselves to be flattered. Like these priests who often blamed disasters such as plague on the sins of society, Ottaviano pulls out the standard canon of sermon discourses: flatteries, effeminate men, sumptuary laws, and unsuppressed desires.
Admittedly, Ottaviano is no Savonarola, and his attempts to hinge masculine behavior to a moral code are not motivated by religious conviction. He wishes to bring peace to Italy through a political shift where a new type of government is imaginable. Regardless of Ottaviano's initial condemnations, the activities of the court such as dancing and games do not really seem to be that relevant to this political change. Interestingly, Ottaviano will circuitously come to defend dancing later in the book during his discussions of courtiers of antiquity such as Plato and Aristotle. This is a claim to which Gasparo interjects by stating that he doubted that the great men of ancient Greece The term ancient Greece refers to the periods of Greek history in Classical Antiquity, lasting ca. 750 BC (the archaic period) to 146 BC (the Roman conquest). It is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of Western Civilization. deigned to perform music or dance. Ottaviano instead says that we should believe that Aristotle and Plato did indeed practice music and dance since their knowledge of such subjects was fundamental to the structure of their philosophies.
We are confronted with Ottaviano's perplexing per·plex
tr.v. per·plexed, per·plex·ing, per·plex·es
1. To confuse or trouble with uncertainty or doubt. See Synonyms at puzzle.
2. To make confusedly intricate; complicate. contradiction. The man who finds dance and music to have led Italy into opprobrium is the very same man who then defends these acts in Plato, Aristotle and the modern courtier. I propose that just such a contradiction is possibly our best proof that gender shaming is merely a weapon of rhetorical persuasion. That is, it seems that his earlier words of condemnation are not sincere, and are merely a technique to chide men into action. If the purpose of the courtier is to persuade the prince and those around him to create a more perfect state, then might we not say that Ottaviano is performing precisely this role. His speech in the fourth book is in fact seeking to shame his fellow "Italians" into a new political posturing that is metaphorically termed as a new masculine posturing. His call for masculinity is thus an attempt to persuade his fellow courtiers to take an active position with those in power, to go to their princes and call for peace or war. Interestingly, his technique is a tried and true standby of fifteenth-century priests and twenty-first-century playground bullies--call the boys a sissy sis·sy
n. pl. sis·sies
1. A boy or man regarded as effeminate.
2. A person regarded as timid or cowardly.
3. Informal Sister. and they will do what you ask. Dancing (and dress, music and other arts) seemed to be an obvious weakness for Ottaviano to attack, regardless of his sincere opinions on the topic. Thus he attacks "effeminate" gestures knowing that this method will cause a reaction, and possibly create a revived spirit for a new Italy among the courtiers.
Women and the Shaming Mechanism
Being unmanly is limited to name calling by Canossa, Gasparo, and Ottaviano. However, the bullying of one boy courtier pointing fingers at another, calling him girly girl·y
Variant of girlie. , impugning his dress, his musicianship or his dancing is child's play child's play
1. Something very easy to do.
2. A trivial matter.
Informal something that is easy to do
Noun 1. compared to the women who correct men's unmasculine behavior in the narrated stories of Book III. Citing classical history, Giuliano tells of Spartan women who disowned dis·own
tr.v. dis·owned, dis·own·ing, dis·owns
To refuse to acknowledge or accept as one's own; repudiate. or killed their own sons if they retreated. He tells about the Saguntine women who took up arms against Hannibal when their husbands failed them in defending their city, and he recounts stories of German women who killed themselves and their children when their husbands were defeated. (19) Giuliano has rehearsed the humanist practice of introducing classical exempla ex·em·pla
Plural of exemplum. as a guide for contemporary behavior in a particularly gendered debate. Where Quint has demonstrated women's fundamental role in the civilizing process, it may be that Giuliano bemoans the loss of an even greater power that women once exercised, or that he at least recognizes the usefulness of bringing this kind of power to our consciousness. He reminds the court how women (or stories about them) may shame men not only to cultivate better manners but how they may as well cultivate a more effective 'masculine' military behavior. (20)
The relation between the manliness of the court and the manliness in the narrated stories is important. The behaviors of dress, music, speech, and other courtly activities do not seem to have any real bearing on the health of the society. That is to say, one wonders what difference it would make to society if men continued to pluck pluck
1. an abattoir term for the thoracic viscera plus the liver, after separation from the esophagus and the diaphragm. Includes the larynx, trachea, lungs, heart and liver, plus the spleen in sheep.
2. their eyebrows and fix their hair. Instead, the women in the stories of Book III who are cited for their coercion of sons and husbands into manly behavior are almost exclusively found in states that are fighting off invading forces. Thus in these cases, manliness is clearly definable as protecting a society. Not by chance, a feminine behavior by men in the Cortegiano always seems to result in foreign occupation. The cowardly sons and husbands described by Giuliano risked allowing the occupation of their homes, and Ottaviano states that it has been due to the effeminate ways of courtiers that Italy has been reduced to a land run by invaders. However, it seems impossible to reconcile these two visions of unmanly men. Whereas one can imagine how retreat might endanger national security, it seems that a man's disheveled eyebrows should not influence his ability to fight off foreigners.
The text of the Cortegiano suggests that men are concerned above all with the outward signs of other men's gender: how they act, how they play, how they speak and how they dress. These seemingly cosmetic aspects of identity formation are then implicated im·pli·cate
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.
2. in a political metaphor, where bolstering masculine behavior represents stabilizing the political state. Women, specifically women from narrated stories, are also implicated in this politicizing of masculine gender. They are described as frequently shaming men through more direct means. They do not criticize the "effeminate" behavior of men such as dress, music and dance, but rather, they condemn military cowardliness cow·ard·ly
Exhibiting the characteristics of a coward, particularly ignoble fear: a cowardly surrender.
cow and retreat. These women urge men to take on arms and defend the nation either by threatening to kill them if they retreat or by emasculating them by reminding them of man's role as protector of women. If the dialogues are intended to provide ideals and thus motivate men to govern their behavior, actions and speech, then they are potentially as well a call to women to come forth and force their husbands and sons into battle, to fight united for a new stable order. What may be the most interesting reversal of traditional criticism is that the 'emasculating' power of women over men, especially in the narrated stories, is then seen as a means to embolden em·bold·en
tr.v. em·bold·ened, em·bold·en·ing, em·bold·ens
To foster boldness or courage in; encourage. See Synonyms at encourage. 'masculine' militaristic mil·i·ta·rism
1. Glorification of the ideals of a professional military class.
2. Predominance of the armed forces in the administration or policy of the state.
3. activity, where the subjugation of men to women is in effect the cause of manliness.
Finally, we see that effeminacy in dress (understood as "vana") and effeminacy on the battlefield (here not fearing death or even "entrare in pericolo") are distinguishable discourses in the Cortegiano. However, we have seen how the speakers will associate and bind these two types of effeminate behavior as part of their own policing mechanism that ultimately seeks to control others according to their own desires. By emphasizing the political function of rhetorical persuasion around the topic of effeminacy, my goal is not only to nuance the critical tradition of the "effeminate courtier," but also to bring Castiglione scholarship closer to what I see as his deliberate political pragmatism.
The gender anxiety so suggested in the works of Kelly, Rebhorn, Jordan, et al. is as I see it, quite present in the dialogues. But rather than fixing the cause of anxiety on the subservience sub·ser·vi·ent
1. Subordinate in capacity or function.
2. Obsequious; servile.
3. Useful as a means or an instrument; serving to promote an end. of men to the women of the court, I have preferred to discuss how these courtiers and court ladies have embroiled em·broil
tr.v. em·broiled, em·broil·ing, em·broils
1. To involve in argument, contention, or hostile actions: "Avoid . . . themselves in a mechanism of shame and fear that incites anxiety in some ways unrelated to this so-called subservience. The question is not whether the power and presence of women at the court effeminizes the courtier, but rather, how is gender (in all of its iterations) co-opted in order to mobilize masculinity around a political aim. It could be that for Castiglione, women's rule is not effeminizing per se, but rather, a necessary and generative gen·er·a·tive
1. Having the ability to originate, produce, or procreate.
2. Of or relating to the production of offspring.
pertaining to reproduction. tool in the construction of early modern masculinity.
This essay has focused on the fear of being called effeminate, but this technique of rhetorical persuasion is mobilized around many gender fears that could be discussed in a similar fashion which might all come under Berger's category of the sprezzatura of suspicion. Both the women and men of the court maintain a constant surveillance over masculinity, and they invoke a shaming mechanism using men's gender anxieties in order to persuade the courtiers to act according to their own designs. The text ultimately politicizes masculinity and demonstrates the utility of this gender construction in a larger project of political reform.
Barberi-Squarotti, Giorgio. L'Onore in corte: dal Castiglione al Tasso. Milan: Angeli, 1986.
Berger, Harry. The Absence of Grace: Sprezzatura and Suspicion in Two Renaissance Courtesy Books. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2000.
Castiglione, Baldesar. Il libro del cortegiano con una scelta delle Opere minori. Ed. Bruno Maier. 2nd ed. Turin: UTET UTET Unione Tipografica Editrice Torinese (Italian: Union Typography Publisher of Torino; Italy) , 1964.
--. The Book of the Courtier Book of the Courtier
Castiglione’s discussion of the manners of the perfect courtier (1528). [Ital. Lit.: EB, II: 622]
See : Chivalry . Trans. Charles Singleton. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959.
Colie, Rosalie. "Castiglione's Urban Pastoral." Greyfriar 8 (1965): 5-13.
Fradenburg, Louise Olga. City, Marriage, Tournament: Arts of Rule in Late Medieval Scotland. Madison, WI: U of Wisconsin P, 1991.
Franko, Mark. "Renaissance Conduct Literature and Basse Danse The basse danse, or "low dance" was the most popular court dance in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, especially at the Burgundian court, often in a combination of 6/4 and 3/2 time allowing for use of hemiola. : The Kinesis kinesis /ki·ne·sis/ (ki-ne´sis) [Gr.]
2. stimulus-induced motion responsive only to the intensity of the stimulus, not the direction; cf. taxis. of Bonne n. 1. A female servant charged with the care of a young child. Grace." Persons in Groups: Social Behavior In biology, psychology and sociology social behavior is behavior directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behavior such as predation which involves members of different species is not social. as Identity Formation in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. Ed. Richard Trexler Richard Trexler (d. March 8, 2007) was a professor of History at the State University of New York at Binghamton. A specialist of the Renaissance, Reformation, Italy and Behaviorist History, Richard had over fifty published works. . Binghamton, NY: MRTS MRTS Mass Rapid Transit System
MRTS Marginal Rate of Technical Substitution
MRTS Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies
MRTS Multi-Purpose Reconfigurable Training System
MRTS Mission Readiness Test Section
MRTS Message Routing and Translation System , 1985.
--. Renaissance Dance Theory, c. 1420-1589: An Intertextual in·ter·tex·tu·al
Relating to or deriving meaning from the interdependent ways in which texts stand in relation to each other.
in Model. Birmingham: Summa, 1984.
Frosh, Stephen. Sexual Difference: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity. London: Routledge, 1994.
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Grosz, Elizabeth. Jacques Lacan Jacques-Marie-Émile Lacan (French IPA: [ʒak la'kɑ̃]) (April 13, 1901 – September 9, 1981) was a French psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and doctor, who made prominent contributions to the psychoanalytic movement. : A Feminist Introduction. London: Routledge, 1990.
Hairston, Julia. "Skirting the Issue: Machiavelli's Caterina Sforza Caterina Sforza (1463 – May 10, 1509), countess of Forlì, was an illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza.
In 1473, she was betrothed to Girolamo Riario, a nephew (though rumors persisted that he was a son) of Pope Sixtus IV, who was thus able to regain ." Renaissance Quarterly (2000): 705-07.
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Kelly, Joan. "Did Women Have a Renaissance?" Becoming Visible: Women in European History. Ed. Renate Bridenthal and Claudia Koonz Claudia Ann Koonz is an American feminist historian of Nazi Germany. Her principle area of interest is the experience of women during the Nazi era.
Koonz first came to fame in 1969 with a dissertation on Walther Rathenau. She was awarded a PhD from Rutgers University in 1970. . Boston: Houghton Mifflin Houghton Mifflin Company is a leading educational publisher in the United States. The company's headquarters is located in Boston's Back Bay. It publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers , 1977.
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Ragland-Sullivan, E. "The Sexual Masquerade: A Lacanian Theory of Sexual Difference." Lacan and the Subject of Language. Ed. E. Ragland-Sullivan and M. Bracher. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Routledge, 1991.
Rebhorn, Wayne. Courtly Performances: Masking and Festivity in Castiglione's "Book of the Courtier." Detroit: Wayne State Wayne State may refer to the following public institutions:
Richards, Jennifer. "'A Wanton Grossly careless or negligent; reckless; malicious.
The term wanton implies a reckless disregard for the consequences of one's behavior. A wanton act is one done in heedless disregard for the life, limbs, health, safety, reputation, or property rights of Trade of Living?': Rhetoric, Effeminacy, and the Early Modern Courtier." Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 42.2 (Spring 2000): 185-206.
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College of Staten Island/City University of New York There is no institution of higher education in the State of New York or the United States of America that bears the name University of New York. However, in confusion, it is possible that such a reference may regard the following:
* My thanks to Jane Tylus and Marc Schachter, whose thoughtful comments greatly improved this essay.
(1) Karras points out the historical contingency of effeminacy in her work From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe. She notes that though modern gender discourse might find the manners and dress of late medieval knights to be effeminate, they were not perceived as such by their contemporaries. She cites a work on knighthood knighthood: see chivalry; courtly love; knight. that warns against a type of hyper-masculinity that in effect is unmanly since such foolhardiness in battle endangers others' lives (40). Karras also discusses the historically contingent discourse of (un)masculine sodomy sodomy
Noncoital carnal copulation. Sodomy is a crime in some jurisdictions. Some sodomy laws, particularly in Middle Eastern countries and those jurisdictions observing Shari'ah law, provide penalties as severe as life imprisonment for homosexual intercourse, even if the . She cites an English literary text that associates the "masculine" aggressive behavior with sodomy and manners with appropriate male behavior (44).
(2) On surveillance and sprezzatura, see especially Berger (12-13).
(3) See Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire.
(4) Quint's argument is predicated on the understanding that the act of serving the women has made the courtiers effeminate, but it seems he views their mere presence as an effeminizing force as well. See especially the phrase, "What both Ottaviano and Bembo would teach, however, is a lesson that the presence of women at court has already taught the courtier, the lesson of civilization itself: the restraint of aggression and the cultivation of good manners--that beautiful behavior which Bembo seeks to inculcate in·cul·cate
tr.v. in·cul·cat·ed, in·cul·cat·ing, in·cul·cates
1. To impress (something) upon the mind of another by frequent instruction or repetition; instill: inculcating sound principles. " (187).
(5) Although there was a belief that the presence of women might feminize fem·i·nize
tr.v. fem·i·nized, fem·i·niz·ing, fem·i·niz·es
1. To give a feminine appearance or character to.
2. To cause (a male) to assume feminine characteristics. young boys in their developmental years, a matter that Alberti notes in his Della famiglia, there is also an undeniable understanding of the two genders as being defined precisely by their differences. Here, one only needs think of the tradition of literature that ranges from Aristotle, the church fathers and the numerous tracts in the Renaissance that preclude women from rhetoric or public activity because women di natura are different from men. Furthermore, much theory has been dedicated to the manner in which men may make women an Other and the resulting mechanism of gender identity that results. Ragland-Sullivan discusses how Freud and Lacan problematize Prob´lem`a`tize
v. t. 1. To propose problems. the masculine dependency on the feminine (62). See also Frosh who states that there is a need for femininity for the recognition of masculinity (81).
(6) I add the qualifier "functional" to Richards' term "civil manliness" (194) in order to underscore Ottaviano's clear concern with the military safety of the state in light of the foreign incursions into Italy.
(7) For ease of reference, citations of the Cortegiano will use the convention of chapter headings as found in most twentieth-century printed editions.
(8) Greene 12. For other studies that discuss the Urbino court as an enclosure or pastoral space see Rebhom 103-11, Berger 139-55, and Colic. For more general studies on how Neoplatonism offered an idle alternative to the active political realm, see Skinner and Garin.
(9) Scholarship in various fields that discuss the male body surprisingly concur: men's bodies are either kept away from scrutiny or simply eclipsed by the emphasis placed on reason and the mind. Texts often cited are Lacan (Meaning of the Phallus phallus /phal·lus/ (fal´us) pl. phal´li
2. a representation of the penis.
3. the primordium of the penis or clitoris that develops from the genital tubercle. ), Aristotle (On the Generation of Animals Generation of Animals (or On the Generation of Animals, or in Latin De Generatione Animalium) is a text by Aristotle. Arabic translation
The Arabic translation of De Generatione Animalium comprises treatises 15-19 of the ), or Kant's studies on rationality. Additionally, Italian literature Italian literature, writings in the Italian language, as distinct from earlier works in Latin and French. The Thirteenth Century
The first Italian vernacular literature began to take shape in the 13th cent. preceding Castiglione such as Boccaccio's Decameron (especially Day X) or Alberti's I libri dell famiglia are testaments to the positing of the male body in direct opposition to Reason.
(10) Here I borrow Butler's now familiar term.
(11) It is noteworthy that Singleton translates "delicato" with "dainty." Although the translation of the word is arguably valid, it nonetheless substantiates Richards' claim that current generations have wished to see the courtiers as effeminized through modern "masculinized" readings.
(12) Berger states that the courtiers are caught in the "art of behaving as if always under surveillance, an art that aims to ward off danger by appearing dangerous and thus to elicit cautious respect no less than admiration, it motivates increased surveillance and anxiety on the part of the performer as well as the observer" (12).
(13) A minute fraction of sumptuary laws regulated men's clothing. Sumptuary laws are briefly mentioned in the Cortegiano (IV, 41).
(14) My comment here does not suggest that shaming is more common in social control of men than women, but that in this text there is a specific emphasis on male gender shaming concerning cosmetic and aesthetic issues. There is obviously a vast literary tradition that exemplifies the use of shame as social control of women, specifically regarding chastity Chastity
See also Modesty, Purity, Virginity.
virgin saint and martyr. [Christian Hagiog.: Brewster, 76]
(Rom. Diana) moon goddess; virgin huntress. [Gk. Myth. .
(15) Barberi-Squarotti suggests that music is a necessary attribute for the disempowered courtier "intellectual," but he as well relegates music to the realm of sugar-coating entertainment intended to attract the attention of the prince. On the other hand, Kolsky, finds the courtly practices of music and dance to be performances of Platonic unities and expressions of power.
(16) See, for example, Nevile, Kolsky, and Franko, Renaissance Dance Theory.
(17) This may challenge Quint's idea that men were performing primarily for women by suggesting that they were equally anxious about their male peer audience.
(18) Richards 193. She notes the way that Ottaviano modifies his support for the monarchy by imagining the state functioning with three parts: kingdom, nobles, and the people.
(19) On the Renaissance appropriation of classical sources of women shaming men into battle, see Hairston 705-07.
(20) My insistence on qualifying that these women who shame men are from narrated stories is to indicate that there is a possible ambiguous motivation that lies behind these classical citations. Giuliano may be calling for his contemporary women to mock men into battle, but he may as well be merely demonstrating how narratives about women (implicitly not real women) may be useful in this mechanism of gender shaming. That is to say, powerful and threatening women are commended in a narrative and safe context while the opportunities for women in fact are unchanged.