Journal of Early Modern Studies, Volume 7, issue 2 (Fall 2018)

CORNEANU, Sorana (ed.)



Samuel A. Stoner: Who Is Descartes’ Evil Genius?

  • Abstract: This essay examines René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. It argues that the evil genius is the meditator who narrates Meditations and that Descartes’ goal in Meditation One is to transform his readers into evil geniuses. This account of the evil genius is significant because it explains why the evil genius must be finite and why it cannot call mathematics or logic into doubt. Further, it highlights the need to read the Meditations on two levels—one examining the meditator’s line of thinking on its own terms and the other exploring Descartes’ reasons for depicting the meditator’s progress in the way that he does.

Kevin Delapp: Philosophical Duelism: Fencing in Early Modern Thought

  • Abstract: This essay explores the parallel development of fencing theory and philosophy in early modern Europe, and suggests that each field significantly influenced the other. Arguably, neither philosophy nor fencing would be the same today had the two not been engaged in this particular cultural symbiosis. An analysis is given of the philosophic content within several historical fencing treatises and of the position of fencing in seventeenth and eighteenth-century education and courtly life. Two case studies are then examined: the influence of the fencing master Charles Besnard on the intellectual development of Descartes, and the fencing master William Hope’s appropriation of the ideas of John Locke.

Julia D. Combs: Fountains of Love: The Maternal Body as a Rhetorical Symbol of Authority in Early Modern England

  • Abstract: For Erasmus, the two fountains streaming milky juice—a new mother’s breasts—represent powerful symbols of love and authority. Erasmus describes the mother’s breasts as fountains oozing love to the sucking child. Elizabeth Clinton extends the image of Mother to represent God, reminding the nursing mother that when she looks on her sucking child, she should remember that she is God’s new born babe, sucking His instruction and His word, even as the babe sucks her breast. Dorothy Leigh extends the image of the nursing mother to an image of Christ himself. Mother’s love, especially a breast-feeding or “lying in” mother’s love, is one of the most authoritatively gendered representations of love. Issues of gender and authority converge often around the image of the breast-feeding mother. Drawing on the image of the nursing mother, Dorothy Leigh and other early modern writers actively engaged in the most contentious and public debates of their day, including the authority of men, preachers and kings.

Martin Korenjak: Humanist Demography: Giovanni Battista Riccioli on the World Population* [OPEN ACCESS]

  • Abstract: The origins of demography as a scientific discipline are usually seen as intimately connected to the organisational and economic needs of the early modern state.  This paper, by contrast, presents an early demographic enterprise that falls outside this framework.  The calculations performed by the Italian Jesuit Giovanni Battista Riccioli in an appendix to his Geographia et hydrographia reformata (“Geography and hydrography brought up to date,” 1661) are the first systematic attempt presently known to arrive at an estimate of the entire world population. Yet they appear to have no political purpose and rather belong to a learned, bookish tradition of demographical thinking that may be termed “humanist”. The article starts from a summary of Riccioli’s life, of the book wherein his demographic exercise is contained and of this exercise itself. Thereafter, Riccioli’s motives, sources, methodology and results are discussed. By way of conclusion, some preliminary reflections on the place of Riccioli and the humanist tradition in the early modern history of demography as a whole are offered. Two appendices present a translation of the Coniectura and tabulate its literary sources in order to provide some possible starting points for a study of the aforementioned tradition.

* This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. [741374]).



Colleen Ruth Rosenfeld, Indecorous Thinking: Figures of Speech in Early Modern Poetics, New York: Fordham University Press, 2018 (Rémi Vuillemin)

Richard Meek and Erin Sullivan (eds.), The Renaissance of Emotion: Understanding Affect in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015 (Irina Georgescu)

Gianluca Mori, L’ateismo dei moderni. Filosofia e negazione di Dio da Spinoza a d’Holbach, Roma: Carocci, 2016 (Diego Lucci)

Simon Grote, The Emergence of Modern Aesthetic Theory: Religion and Morality in Enlightenment Germany and Scotland, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017 (Eduard Ghiţă)


ISSN: 2285-6382 (paperback)
ISSN: 2286–0290 (electronic)

ISBN: 978-606-697-088-4 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-606-697-089-1 (ebook)

Weight 1 kg
Dimensions 24 × 17 × 2 cm
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