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Kuzma Vladimirov
Kuzma Vladimirov

Heroic Age

Building on 19th- and early 20th-century conceptualizations--the synapse, the cellular nature of neuronal structure, the electrical basis of neural impulses--the heroic age, starting around World War I, set the stage for molecular definition of neuromuscular transmission. Without targeting specific diseases, the work took us to the verge of controlling some of humankind's cruelest dysfunctions.

Heroic Age

But not everyone agrees with this assessment. Many contemporaries of the heroic age of exploration cited the recklessness of these expeditions, and historians have debated the merits of their efforts. Either way, whether heroic or foolish, 20th-century polar explorers undoubtedly achieved some remarkable feats of survival and endurance.

Artists and photographers, most notably Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley, accompanied the various Antarctic expeditions. These artist-explorers made photographs, films, paintings, and drawings that reveal the triumphs and tragedies of first attempts to reach the South Pole. In Part II of this lecture, presented on November 21, 2019, senior lecturer David Gariff explores the artists and photographers who visually documented the Antarctic continent during this heroic age of 20th-century exploration.

Thomas P. Roche, Jr.'s book The Kindly Flame is fifty years old. Subtitled A Study of the Third and Fourth Books of Spenser's Faerie Queene, Roche's book belongs to the heroic age of Spenser criticism, with Harry Berger's The Allegorical Temper: Vision and Reality in Book II of Spenser's Faerie Queene (1957), A. C. Hamilton's The Structure of Allegory in The Faerie Queene (1961), Paul Alpers' The Poetry of the Faerie Queene (1967), the essays of John Hollander (for whom Kenneth Gross organized this beautiful set of tributes), and a handful of other landmarks. Some weeks ago, at the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, with Roche in the room, a panel of speakers gathered to address the significance of The Kindly Flame.

Does the longevity of Spenser criticism of the heroic age speak to the intrinsic virtues of this corpus to a field that became modern all at once? As I have written elsewhere, Berger's book brought the New Criticism to Spenser, even though by 1957 that method had been current for other periods and authors for twenty years or so. Does it mean that paradigms in this field change very slowly? Or that we are near the end of a phase in the history of the field? However one thinks about these questions, it's a rare honor to be able to discuss them when many of the heroic generation, with the sad exceptions of Alpers and Hollander, are still with us. 041b061a72


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