The affective scripts of early modern execution and murder
in The Renaissance of emotion
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Focusing on early modern accounts of execution and murder in drama and cheap print, this chapter draws upon a group of broadside and pamphlet execution narratives from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, including accounts of the regicide of Charles I, and upon Thomas Preston’s (1537-1598) Cambyses, King of Persia (1569) and Shakespeare’s Richard III (c.1592-3). In their representation of the rhetorical performances of the passions of the key players, these texts illustrate not only how emotion might be communicated from one character to another, but also how they might persuade and ‘infect’ audiences and readers with contagious passion by manipulating the linguistic and dramatic conventions deemed appropriate in such deadly situations. Through dramatic performances of passion, the texts communicate important (and at times subversive) political arguments about the nature of tyranny versus legitimate rule, illustrating the potency of emotional performance on the early modern page and stage.

The Renaissance of emotion

Understanding affect in Shakespeare and his contemporaries


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