In their article “Come Live With Me and Feed My Sheep: Invitation, Ownership, and Belonging in Early Modern Pastoral Literature,” Huth argues that the speech act of invitation defines the materials and people that belong to the pastoral world. Huth’s argument is based on Tzvetan Todorov’s argument that “the origins of all genre lie in every say human speech acts” (45). While Huth recognizes that pastoral is not a genre, but rather a “mode that can appear in any genre,” they also argue that Todorov’s theory still applies as it emphasizes “the cultural and ideological formation of [literary] types” (45). Huth starts first by explaining how invitation defines both the materials and the people of the pastoral community in generalities. The invitation explains the materials owned by one of the pastoral community through what is being offered. “One cannot offer what one does not already have” (46). The very materials that are being offered in the invitation process define the materials of the pastoral world. The invitation also defines those who belong to the pastoral community. On one hand, the one who offers the pastoral goods or services is required to be part of the pastoral community, while the person receiving the invitation is outside of it. This goes back to “one cannot offer what one does not already have” (46). The person who is inviting, has the food and the shelter, for example, that they are offering to the person who does not. On the other hand, the invitation also defines the inviter’s virtue. As Huth points out, “generosity, hospitality, and more generally, charity” were all virtues of the time for the “good Christian life (which should emulate Christ, the Good Shepherd)” (47). The speech act of the invitation defines what is the pastoral landscape, who is included in the community, and what virtues define that community.
For the remainder of the article, Huth analyzes specific examples of the invitation act in multiple works. The first poem Huth analyzes Virgil’s first poem in Ecologues. This poem describes an interaction between Tityrus and Meliboeus, who both come from the pastoral community. Meliboeus, however, has been exiled, removing him from the community. Tityrus’s invitation is a perfect example of Huth’s argument. The next piece Huth analyzes Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” in which the speaker is “attempting to make the pastoral world seem inviting to his beloved” (53). In this case, the invitation is not only defining the pastoral, but also the relationship between the speaker and the beloved. The next piece is Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which is an interesting example as it focuses on a forceful request rather than a specific invitation. Huth’s theory, however, still applies as the speech act still defines the roles and belongings of the involved parties. The final piece Huth analyzes is Spencer’s The Faerie Queene. Spenser has a character in reference to Virgil’s poem, named Meliboe. While Spencer changed the role of the referenced character, the interaction still works to define the pastoral world. Through these examples, Huth furthers their argument that the invitation speech act in pastoral literature is a literary device used to define the pastoral world as well as the relationship and positions of the involved parties.
Huth, Kimberly. “Come Live With Me and Feed My Sheep: Invitation, Ownership, and Belonging in Early Modern Pastoral Literature.” Studies in Philology, vol 108, no 1, 2011, pp. 44-69.