Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1975; Stanford University, Ph.D., 1981.
Writer and educator. Yale University, New Haven, CT, lecturer in English, 1981-82; University of Wisconsin—Madison, assistant professor of English, 1982-87; University of California, Santa Barbara, assistant professor, 1987-91, associate professor, 1991-99, professor of English, 1999—, chair of Renaissance Studies Program 1990-94; Early Modern Center, director, 2000—, and English Broadside Ballad Archive director, 2004—. Presenter at academic conventions and conferences.
Spenser Society (member of executive committee, 1989-92 and 2000-04).
Summer stipend, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1983-84; Interdisciplinary Humanities Center Travel Grant, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1989-90; FCDA summer grants, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1987-91; Regents' Humanities Faculty Fellowship, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1991-92; University of California President's Research Fellowship in the Humanities, 1992-93; Regents' Humanities Faculty Fellowship, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1995-96; Senate Research grants, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1995-2004; National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1997-98; Guggenheim fellowship, 2000-01; National Endowment for the Humanities Reference Materials Grant, 2006-08.
Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.
(Editor, with Simon Hunt) Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1999.
Unsettled: The Culture of Mobility and the Working Poor in Early Modern England, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including Representing the English Renaissance, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, University of California Press, 1987; The Spenser Encyclopedia, edited by A.C. Hamilton, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990; Drama Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000; and Rogues and Early Modern Literary Culture: A Critical Anthology, edited by Craig Dionne and Steve Mentz, University of Michigan Press, 2004.
Contributor to academic journals and periodicals, including English Literary Renaissance, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Shakespeare Studies, Papers on Language and Literature, Studies in Canada, Spenser Review, and Early Modern Literary Studies.
Writer and educator Patricia Fumerton is a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As an academic, Fumerton specializes in Renaissance and Early Modern works, including ballads and Renaissance literature. A biographer on the university's Department of English Web site identified the author's scholarly interests as "sixteenth-and seventeenth-century culture and literature, high and popular culture, visual culture, subjectivity, and postmodernism." Fumerton conducts research on authors such as Sir Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, and Ben Jonson; and on topics such as vagrancy and spatial mobility and popular contemporary broadside publications. She is also a prolific author of articles for scholarly publications and a frequent presenter and moderator at panels, conferences, and symposia.
In Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament, Fumerton "presents a fascinating and detailed exploration of the role of the ‘ornamental’ and the ‘trivial’ among English aristocrats in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries," noted reviewer Mary Thomas Crane in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology. Her goal, according to Crane, is to show that the "aristocratic self was constituted through" much that was "trivial," including decorations, small gifts, entertainment, food, poetry, baubles, trinkets, and other decorative, often inconsequential, items that helped to illuminate wealth, refinement, and show. For instance, Fumerton explores the meaning of King Charles I's attempt at his execution to "fashion a whole and lasting memory through a proliferation of ornamental gifts," including fragments of clothing, clippings of his hair, even vials of his blood, the reviewer continued. In addition, Fumerton looks at the creation and exchange of miniature portraits and love sonnets, and the aristocratic dining habit centered on moving to another room after the main dinner to consume an exquisite and fragile form of dessert. She also sees the exchange of children into fosterage or apprentice programs as a form of trivial gift-giving. Elsewhere, she looks at the conflict between the aristocratic gift-giving culture and the need for business, particularly foreign trade, to continue uninhibited.
Some critics expressed considerable enthusiasm over Fumerton's first book. "It is difficult in a short review to convey the sense of the sheer intellectual breadth contained in Patricia Fumerton's remarkable new study," wrote Michael G. Brennan in Notes and Queries. Christopher Lloyd, in the Review of English Studies, called it an "interdisciplinary study par excellence ranging from literary criticism through art history to history." The book is "impressively researched, packed with provocative ideas and fluently delivered," and "will undoubtedly be regarded as a major contribution to our understanding and interpretation of English aesthetics during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries," Brennan concluded.
Along with Simon Hunt, Fumerton coedited Renaissance Culture and the Everyday. In the book, the editors gather together essays that consider a shift in attention during the Renaissance from aristocrats, national politics, and courtly matters to the lives and interests of the common person, the citizens who dwelled on the margins of society, and the interests and plight of women. Topics covered included mirrors and their role in Renaissance life; dressage and horsemanship; life in Florentine nunneries; the place of women in Renaissance history; Jonson's stage drama; female violence toward domestic servants; and Renaissance-era graffiti and wall-painting. Linda Woodbridge, writing in Renaissance Quarterly, called the book an "excellent (and lavishly illustrated) collection" and a volume "brim with useful and thought-provoking essays."
With Unsettled: The Culture of Mobility and the Working Poor in Early Modern England, Fumerton "makes a crucial contribution to a burgeoning area of literary and historical study, expanding on her own chapters and articles, and recent work on the realities and representations of rogues, vagrants, and vagabonds from the early modern period onwards," observed Adam Hansen in Early Modern Literary Studies. She explores how the lives of the displace poor, represented by the various vagrants and rogues of her study, were important to the development of early modern capitalism, both through the concurrent focusing of labor in apprenticeship programs and through the need for itinerant merchants and peddlers who could operate with greater freedom outside the traditional labor structures of the time. The movement of women's labor outside the home, the service of soldiers and sailors, and the work of mobile laborers helped develop early capitalism, even as they defined many of the more unsettling and anxiety-producing aspects of business and labor. Backing up much of Fumerton's research are case studies drawn from journals and papers of individuals who lived and worked through the often chaotic world of Early Modern England. "Recognizing the problems attendant on defining the mobile past and present, Fumerton has usefully developed inclusive senses of early modern identity, extending the critical franchise to do so," Hansen concluded.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, July-August, 1999, K. Gouwens, review of Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, p. 2009; May, 2007, E.D. Hill, review of Unsettled: The Culture of Mobility and the Working Poor in Early Modern England, p. 1533.
CLIO, summer, 1996, review of Cultural Aesthetics: Renaissance Literature and the Practice of Social Ornament, p. 421.
Early Modern Literary Studies, January, 2007, Adam Hansen, review of Unsettled.
English Studies, December, 1993, Paul Dean, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 546.
Historical Journal, March, 2001, Bernard Capp, "Women and the Everyday in Early Modern Europe," p. 291.
Journal of British Studies, January, 1994, Greg Walker, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 104.
Journal of English and Germanic Philology, July, 1994, Mary Thomas Crane, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 416.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, autumn, 2007, Craig Dionne, review of Unsettled, p. 273.
Modern Language Review, January, 1994, Marion Wynne-Davies, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 199.
Notes and Queries, September, 1993, Michael G. Brennan, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 380.
Renaissance Quarterly, winter, 1993, Peter L. Rudnytsky, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 854; autumn, 2000, Linda Woodbridge, review of Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, p. 925; spring, 2007, Michelle M. Dowd, review of Unsettled, p. 291.
Review of English Studies, May, 1993, Christopher Lloyd, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 245.
Sewanee Review, fall, 1993, J.F.R. Day, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. R114.
Shakespeare Quarterly, spring, 2001, Jonathan Gil Harris, review of Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, p. 161.
Sixteenth Century Journal, winter, 1992, Frank Ardolino, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 801; summer, 2000, Martha K. Hoffman-Strock, review of Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, p. 620.
Times Literary Supplement, May 1, 1992, Nancy Klein Maguire, review of Cultural Aesthetics, p. 24; January 19, 2007, Sandra Clark, review of Unsettled, p. 28.