Conclusion: De Certeau and
Early Modern Cultural Studies
T
he preceding chapters are recognizably a contribution to a fairly
traditional field, Renaissance literary studies. The readings that
they offer of Shakespeare, Milton, and Bacon are motivated, at least in
part, by strategies of close reading, a form of textual attention still
privileged by English departments. I say "still," because the boundaries
of disciplinary study are under siege at the present moment. Partly the
siege has been launched, although not necessarily in a conscious or
overt way, by
u.s.
universities themselves at the end of the twen-
tieth century: a diminishing pool of resources forces traditional hu-
manities disciplines to broaden their bases of operations, in effect to
colonize other intellectual domains to justify their levels of institu-
tional suppon.
Hence the expanded range of topics to be found in much literary
scholarship, including the present work, must be read against the in-
stitutional horizons within which and in relation to which these stud-
ies have been conceptualized. But disciplines are also under siege for
reasons proper to themselves, owing to ideological and epistemological
critiques of intellectual business-as-usual that have accrued around the
sign of "cultural studies." New Science, New World aims also to be read
as a contribution to this emergent field. It offers a reading of emer-
gent scientific culture that moves beyond the perimeters of "the body,"
which has recently become the favored site of engagement with the
protoscientific in early modem studies. In fact, it is offered as a self-
conscious, if incomplete, incursion into regions of "hard" science that,
with few exceptions, have remained mystified entities to the human-
ities, even when they draw upon a discourse of constructionism such as
that supplied by Foucault. To that end, the sections on Copernicus and
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