chapter  2
20 Pages

(post) Modern Elizabeth: Gender, Politics, and the Emergence of Modern Subjectivity

ByStephen Cohen

The critical history of the development of the modern subject in the Renaissance traditionally begins with Jacob Burckhardt’s muchquoted account of the post-medieval awakening of an interiorized and self-conscious subjectivity:

In the Middle Ages both sides of human consciousness – that which was turned within as that which was turned without – lay dreaming or half awake beneath a common veil. . . . Man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family, or corporation – only through some general category. In Italy this veil first melted into air; an objective treatment and consideration of the State and of all things of this world became possible. The subjective side at the same time asserted itself with corresponding emphasis; man became a spiritual individual, and recognized himself as such.