Masterless Renaissance: Rogue Form from Utopia to Hell


ACLS Project Development Grants




As contingent forms of labor proliferate and the market’s power to determine social questions comes under renewed scrutiny, my project traces these issues to an early modern origin. Where much of early modern literature investigates the dynamics of the master-servant dyad—the cornerstone of feudal service—this project attends to the undertheorized event and discourse of masterlessness—that is, the rise of an itinerant, wage-laboring proletariat. As a novel historical actor prepared to take the stage, how did literature innovate form and genre to place, understand, and naturalize this precarious linchpin of early capitalist society?