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Death and TensesPosthumous Presence in Early Modern France$
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Neil Kenny

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198754039

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754039.001.0001

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The Historiographical Regime of Disentanglement

The Historiographical Regime of Disentanglement

(p.27) 2 The Historiographical Regime of Disentanglement
Death and Tenses

Neil Kenny

Oxford University Press

Before investigating how early modern tenses communicated posthumous presence, it is necessary to sketch period beliefs about posthumous survival, comparing them with ones in the modern West. This chapter considers the general question of what is believed to ‘live’ on from the past into the present. It briefly surveys changing attitudes to that question from the Middle Ages to today, with particular focus on what changed with the Renaissance. It argues that the specificity of the Renaissance lay neither in its concern with resuscitation nor in its concern to render absent some dimensions of the past, but in the relation between those two concerns—in a preoccupation with disentangling those aspects of the dead that survive (or ought to) into the present from those that do not (or ought not). It is further argued that the modern humanities have inherited that historiographical regime of disentanglement.

Keywords:   historiographical regime, humanities, posthumous survival, Renaissance, tense

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