This chapter examines the central role Thomas Wright’s The Passions of the Minde in Generall (1601) has played in the historiography of early modern emotion, particularly in relation to humoral theory. By reading Wright’s book within the context of his life as a Jesuit priest and his other, much more polemical religious writings (including two treatises on the Eucharist and a pamphlet on the ‘notorious errors’ of Protestantism), this chapter shows how Wright’s approach to affective experience was part of a larger intellectual project addressing the complex relationship between the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul, in both the private and public domains. Such an analysis illustrates how Wright’s understanding of the passions was both more particular and more complicated than has often been acknowledged, highlighting the importance of accounting for both local contexts and the influence of multiple intellectual frameworks (medical, religious, political, and philosophical) in the study of early modern emotion.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book demonstrates that incest was representative of a range of interests crucial to writers of the Gothic, often women or homosexual men who adopted a critical stance in relation to the heteronormative patriarchal world. Incest, a sexual act associated with transgression, violations of power and violence, has readily been conflated with sexual violence in Gothic scholarship and consigned to one of two gendered plots. Sexuality, questions of ownership, inheritance, women's subjugation to male authority, laws of coverture and primogeniture and issues concerning gender roles pervade Gothic works from the mid-eighteenth century on. The incest thematic as employed by women writers in the early modern period is shown to be transgressively endogamic in Maureen Quilligan's excellent work on incest in Elizabethan England.
There are several problems that usually emerge in scholarship examining representations of father-daughter incest in the Gothic, even in works by scholars whose goal is to lay bare the feminist themes that are central to the genre. Principal among these is that representations of father-daughter incest often cause works to be placed in the gendered subgenre of Female Gothic and to be viewed through a lens predicated on this generic division. This chapter examines the incestuous relationships between fathers and daughters in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest and Mary Shelley's Matilda and the texts' attendant scholarship. These three works have been selected in order to compare the way that incest is rendered in a representative chronology of Gothic texts beginning with what has been traditionally defined as the original Gothic novel.