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Understanding affect in Shakespeare and his contemporaries

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.

. The point here is not to offer a boldly one-dimensional reading of Red Crosse’s spiritual errancy (‘it is all about sex!’), but to acknowledge just how complex and revealing sexuality is as a theme. It is not a superficial ‘vehicle’ for talking about something else, but a touchstone for thinking about the very condition of embodiment. One’s attitude to sexuality implicates a whole host of issues that any definition of holiness must navigate: appetite, pleasure, procreation, and romantic love, but also, more broadly, ideas about sin, guilt, virtue, and self

in Comic Spenser
Spenser’s Busirane and Donne’s ‘A Valediction of my name, in the window’

If, as Eugene Vance and others have argued, Augustine inaugurated the semiological and textual consciousness of the Christian West, he did so partly through his development of the trope of the heart as book and through his influential cultivation of the heart as emblem of the inner self in the Confessions . 42 The location of conscience, understanding, and memory, the heart was for Augustine the fleshly embodiment of the self, the site of interior writing and wounding. The Confessions nourished the confluence of erotic love and the cultivation of the inner self

in Spenser and Donne

Cambridge, Harvey became convinced that Perne had plotted against him to block his advancement. In Familiar Letters (1580), Harvey fiercely attacked Perne as the embodiment of hypocrisy, concluding with a denunciation of him as a liar: ‘He often telleth me, he looveth me as himselfe, but out lyar out, thou lyest abhominably in thy throate’ (D3v). It is not until Pierces Supererogation, or A New Prayse of the Old Asse (1593) that we learn the

in The early Spenser, 1554–80
The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night

dramatic embodiment to a Pauline metaphor derived from 2 Corinthians and widespread in the visual arts of the Middle Ages, especially in opposing the Synagogue and the Church: 19 … Moses … put a vaile vpon his face, that the children of Israel shulde not looke vnto the end of that which shulde be abolished. Therefore their mindes are hardened: for vntil this day remaineth the same couering untaken away in the reading of the Olde testament, which (vaile) in Christ is put away. (2 Cor. 3:13–14) The predicament of L’Homme evoked by Barran is that he

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
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Apollo ’. 45 ‘Hobgoblin’ ( OED , n ., 1: ‘A mischievous, tricksy imp or sprite; another name for Puck or Robin Goodfellow’) most obviously invokes the folkloric world of fairy queens and changelings that Spenser cross-pollinates with classical epic. But Harvey’s invocation of the proverbial embodiment of mischief and impudence also captures the way The Faerie Queene up-ends its own laureate ambitions, persistently disavowing its proclaimed epic stature. The remainder of this introduction surveys the strategies by which it does so. First I will consider the poem

in Comic Spenser
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The Faerie Queene III–IV

familiar voice of Spenser’s naïve narrator, ever eager to flatter and to moralise. As Cheney observes, Britomart ‘Ne reckt of Ladies Loue’ for no other reason than that she is female and has set her sights on an embodiment of masculine beauty. 32 The supposition that Britomart is more temperate than her counterparts is, as I have suggested, negated at the outset when she charges at Guyon without provocation. For many this action, and her easy victory over him, confirm the superiority of chastity to temperance in the context of Book III; an alternative slant is that

in Comic Spenser

their grotesque queen in all their vanity and arrogance, though the knight himself is no less ridiculous. As a parodic female monarch, Lucifera bears a family resemblance to goddess Fame, although, as an embodiment of pride, she is emphatically self-absorbed: her task is not to trouble herself with the fate of others but to think exclusively about her own glory. That Lucifera is a caricature of Elizabeth I is indisputable – the arguing point lies in the spirit of that caricature. The interpretation Spenser officially invites is necessarily that the relation is one of

in Comic Spenser
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Figures of comparison and repetition in Spenser’s Cantos of Mutabilitie and Donne’s Anniversaries

, rhetorically, and perhaps politically identifies with the usurper. Remaking the Homeric epithet of ‘ox-eyed’ or ‘ox-faced’ Hera, 71 Spenser simultaneously bestializes ‘the Gods’ and gives them tangible interiority. In more conceptual terms, as Richard Danson Brown contends, the simile damages their ‘credibility … as metaphorical embodiments of Christian providence’. 72 With their allegorical value diminished, Mutabilitie, a ‘beast of strange and forraine race’ – like the ‘impertinent predicate’ of metaphor itself – must be reconciled in some other way to the ordinary state

in Spenser and Donne
Spenser and Shakespeare

intuition of immortality form Shakespeare’s major concern. 31 Duke Vincentio urges Claudio, and all in his overly sensual kingdom, to embrace the tragedy of mortality: ‘Be absolute for death.’ His urgings to release the spirit from embodiment is, however, not achieved in Measure for Measure , nor in its neighbour-play, King Lear , nor in the romances. While Spenser

in Renaissance psychologies