This collection of essays offers a major reassessment of the meaning and significance of emotional experience in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Recent scholarship on early modern emotion has relied on a medical-historical approach, resulting in a picture of emotional experience that stresses the dominance of the material, humoral body. The Renaissance of Emotion seeks to redress this balance by examining the ways in which early modern texts explore emotional experience from perspectives other than humoral medicine. The chapters in the book seek to demonstrate how open, creative and agency-ridden the experience and interpretation of emotion could be. Taken individually, the chapters offer much-needed investigations into previously overlooked areas of emotional experience and signification; taken together, they offer a thorough re-evaluation of the cultural priorities and phenomenological principles that shaped the understanding of the emotive self in the early modern period. The Renaissance of Emotion will be of particular interest to students and scholars of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature, the history of emotion, theatre and cultural history, and the history of ideas.
For the last three decades or so, literary studies, especially those dealing with premodern texts, have been dominated by the New Historicist paradigm. This book is a collection of essays explores medieval and early modern Troilus-texts from Chaucer to Shakespeare. The contributions show how medieval and early modern fictions of Troy use love and other emotions as a means of approaching the problem of tradition. The book argues that by emphasizing Troilus's and Cressida's hopes and fears, Shakespeare sets in motion a triangle of narrative, emotion and temporality. It is a spectacle of which tells something about the play but also about the relation between anticipatory emotion and temporality. The sense of multiple literary futures is shaped by Shakespeare's Chaucer, and in particular by Troilus and Criseyde. The book argues that the play's attempted violence upon a prototypical form of historical time is in part an attack on the literary narratives. Criseyde's beauty is described many times. The characters' predilection for sententiousness unfolds gradually. Through Criseyde, Chaucer's Poet displaces authorial humility as arrogance. The Troilus and Criseyde/Cressida saga begins with Boccaccio, who isolates and expands the love affair between Troiolo and Criseida to vent his sexual frustration. The poem appears to be linking an awareness of history and its continuing influence and impact on the present to hermeneutical acts conspicuously gendered female. The main late medieval Troy tradition does two things: it represents ferocious military combat, and also practises ferocious literary combat against other, competing traditions of Troy.
The Troilus and
Criseyde/Cressida saga is a perfect vehicle for tracing the
history of the emotions, in that it offers an unparalleled darkening of
mood over time. This saga begins with Boccaccio, who isolates and
expands the love affair between Troiolo and Criseida to vent his sexual
frustration. The conceit of the work, as laid out in its prose prologue,
Bringing together research on textual representations of various forms of positive feeling in early modern Europe, this collection of essays highlights the diverse and nuanced cultural meanings of happiness and well-being in this period, which is often characterized as a melancholy age. Interdisciplinary methodological approaches—informed by emotion studies, affect theory, and the contemporary cognitive sciences—provide various frames for understanding how the period cultivated and theorized positive emotions, as well as how those emotions were deployed in political, social, and intellectual contexts. Pointing to the ways the binary between positive and negative might be inadequate to describe emotive structures and narratives, the essays promote analysis of new archives and offer surprising readings of some texts at the center of the Renaissance canon. In addition to an introduction that provides an overview of work in contemporary studies of positive emotions and historical accounts of good feeling in early modern Europe, the book includes three sections: 1) rewriting discourses of pleasure, 2) imagining happy communities, and 3) forms, attachment, and ambivalence. The essays focus on works by such writers as Burton, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Traherne, and Webster, as well as on other kinds of texts circulating in the period. While focused on English writings, essays on continental writers contribute to a wider context for understanding these emotions as European cultural constructions. Finally, the volume offers windows onto the complex histories of happiness, well-being, humor, and embodiment that inform the ways emotions are experienced and negotiated in the present day.
Chardri’s thirteenth-century Anglo-Norman Life
of the Seven Sleepers offers a striking focus on how emotions engender sleep. In
Chardri’s description, when the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus fall asleep in the cave in
which they are hiding from their persecutors, their emotions play a causal role:
Ke par dolur, ke par penser
Endormirent li set bacheler.
Kar ceo avent, sachez, suvent
Ke gent, quant il sunt trop dolent
How can one know if a woman is honourable? In medieval culture, female honour
rested most heavily on one thing: sexual continence, or chastity. But how could
one be absolutely sure if a given woman was chaste? Practising Shame
demonstrates how, in the literature of later medieval England, female honour is
a matter of emotional practice and performance – it requires learning how to
‘feel’ in a specific way. In order to safeguard their chastity, women were
encouraged to cultivate hypervigilance against the possibility of sexual shame
through a combination of inward reflection and outward comportment. Often termed
‘shamefastness’, this practice was believed to reinforce women’s chastity of
mind and body, and to communicate that chastity to others through a combination
of conventional gestures. At the same time, however, medieval anxiety concerning
the potentially misleading nature of appearances rendered these gestures suspect
– after all, if good conduct could be learned, then it could also be
counterfeited. Practising Shame uncovers the paradoxes and complications that
emerged out of the emotional practices linked to female honour, as well as some
of the unexpected ways in which those practices might be reappropriated by male
authors. Written at the intersection of literary studies, gender studies, and
the history of emotions, this book transforms our understanding of the ethical
construction of femininity in the past and provides a new framework for thinking
about honourable womanhood now and in the years to come.
At the time of their publication, Joanna Baillie‘s dramas were considered to be works of genius in their sustained and powerful fixation on one of the several possible human passions. In their very focus on these intense emotions, however, the plays actually reified the dangers inherent in the extremes of human passion. In other words, by fixing her attention on the passions, Baillie revealed that the emotions she was supposedly focused on often masked other, even more powerful desires. Thus, in Orra fear is the result of the heroines hatred of male dominance, while in De Monfort hatred is shown to be the symptom of incestuous love. But what has not been noticed about Baillie‘s plays is their almost obsessive interest in dead, abjected male bodies. Both plays present a very gothic vision of the indestructible patriarchy, an uncanny phallic power that cannot die, that persistently resurrects and feeds on itself or the legends that it has constructed.
Smith explores how Stoker‘s novel raises some complex questions about love through its use of a male love-struck narrator, who appears to be caught in a Female Gothic plot which casts him as its hero. In the novel ‘love’ becomes increasingly sinister as it turns into a destabilising and dangerously irrational emotion that ultimately aligns love with feelings of justified horror. Jewel (1903, revised 1912) thus develops a male reading of a Female Gothic plot in which the idea of female empowerment becomes defined as horrific. However, this idea of a pathologised love, Smith argues, is not unique to Stoker and can be linked to Freud‘s account of love, which reveals how issues relating to male authority appear within psychoanalytical debates about emotion at the time.
This article investigates the role of the corridor in Gothic fiction and horror
film from the late eighteenth century to the present day. It seeks to establish
this transitional space as a crucial locus, by tracing the rise of the corridor
as a distinct mode of architectural distribution in domestic and public
buildings since the eighteenth century. The article tracks pivotal appearances
of the corridor in fiction and film, and in the final phase argues that it has
become associated with a specific emotional tenor, less to do with amplified
fear and horror and more with emotions of Angst or dread.
This article approaches a range of contemporary Scottish fiction: Iain Banks‘s Complicity and A Song of Stone, Irvine Welsh‘s Filth, Michel Faber‘s Under the Skin, James Robertson‘s Joseph Knight, Alan Guthrie‘s Savage Night and selected stories from Alan Bissett‘s Scottish Gothic anthology, Damage Land. The theme the article traces is pity, whether seen in a national or historical context, or as part of a wider panoply of what one might think of as ‘Gothic emotions’. The main contention is that it is possible that we reduce the scope of Gothic when we think of it as merely conducing to terror; whether we think of the earliest Gothic novels or of contemporary writing, there are often other feelings being stirred, a wider range of sensibilities being explored.