Alana Shilling

Comparative Literature
and European Studies

With goals such as mastering the Italian language, completing a double major in Comparative Literature and European Studies, and attending graduate school, Alana Shilling demonstrates that she is committed to excellence. Her undergraduate research experience has only motivated her further. She advises others to start early and to find a patient, inspiring mentor who will be encouraging as well as challenging. Alana credits her mentor, Dr. Jane O. Newman, with teaching her the virtues of assiduous research and the importance of never taking academic claims for granted. When not examining epic or pastoral verse, you can find Alana swimming, surfing, playing the piano, sipping coffee, and hanging out with friends. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




Reaching the height of their popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries, the genre of the emblems is largely overlooked today. This genre, which has often been dismissed as a mere curiosity juxtaposes an image with a verse to express a conceit. The mode of the emblem is comparison. The image and verse are not simply variations of an identical claim. Instead, their very juxtaposition implies a specific and novel thought. The emblem theorist Giovio imagined that the image formed the emblem’s attractive and absorbing “body,” while the accompanying verse constituted the emblem’s “soul.” The Giovian formulation was quite popular, and Torquato Tasso wrote a treatise on the subject. In this analysis, the central problem of Tasso’s pastoral drama the Aminta is formulated as one of emblematic completion. The Aminta is an idyllic pastoral confection in which morality is absent. The hedonistic tendencies of the drama set the pastoral at odds with Tasso’s other works, most notably Jerusalem Delivered, a stern and often moralizing epic. While erotic verse figures prominently in both texts, the Aminta allegorizes the Sirenic dangers of the pastoral tradition and figurative language precisely through their absence. The Aminta presents the erotic verse, the ‘body’ of the text, unaccompanied by a moralizing ‘soul,’ rejecting any implied necessity of linking such hedonism with moral redemption. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Jane O. Newman

School of Humanities

Alana Shilling and I delved into a relatively arcane, and yet increasingly prominent area of study, namely that of emblematics, which crosses the disciplinary boundaries of literature, history, art history, and philosophy in ways that are symptomatic of the most innovative of interdisciplinary approaches to the field of early modern studies. The present paper offers a meticulous reading of how the “confection” of Torquato Tasso’s pastoral play, the Aminta, figures the problem of an unglossed emblem and of uncontained poetic language in turn, a problem to which Tasso’s more well known text, the Jerusalem Delivered, then offered a rather more somber response. Alana is a remarkable young woman; a real scholar who, already as an undergraduate, has achieved a level of sophistication in her dealings with the literature of the Renaissance and Early Modern periods in Europe that I have not seen in any other student at the undergraduate level in my twenty-two years of teaching. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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