An examination of touching moments in dance of court and courtship
This chapter considers what level of contact occurred during the activity of dancing in social situations in early modern England. It examines how the private sensations produced were then recorded and commented upon in different written, visual and theatrical forms. The chapter also considers the importance given to the tactile in developing a communication skill which had to be mastered by those courtiers wanting to excel in courtly dance. 'Unclean handling' is not only occurring in the dance, but by all those involved at the court seen to be sharing the touching moments. To puritan moralists the image of holding hands in dance may have signified illicit fornication, but there are examples where the same dancing image is used as a symbol of chaste concord. The French Basse Dance repertoire comprised different choreographies, each with variable combinations of basic step units, following specific structural metrical rules.
This chapter explores the problems that mirrors presented for women, at whom they were often directed, and discusses the potential for women to circumvent some of the mirror's negative associations. It presents various self-portraits by Sofonisba Anguissola and Artemisia Gentileschi which reveal the different approaches of these women to the problem of representing themselves. Female artists who represent themselves are hampered by the mirror's classic, symbolic associations with women which regularly portrays them in an unfavourable light. The images of Anguissola and Gentileschi, combined with the discussion of James Shirley's 'To A Lady Upon a Looking-Glass Sent', illustrate that the mirror is used in its traditional context of sin, pride and vanity. The mirror appears as a tool of self-improvement, as a means of gazing into the truth of the soul, or what the soul ought to be, and as a motif for true self worth.
Antony and Cleopatra and visual musical experience
Sources describing visual musical experience range from works of music theory and the paratexts of printed music books, through to dramatic texts and the prefaces of popular psalm settings. This chapter considers early modern accounts of the importance of visual musical experience, before examining accounts of musical response when music is hidden and unavailable for such engagement. These sources offer a clear picture of the reactions expected from contemporary subjects when faced either with visible or with unseen music. The chapter also considers responses to unseen music that were invited from playgoers at early performances of Antony and Cleopatra. Early modern sources are clear about responses to unseen music, and it is through these responses that visual musical experience took on a particular significance for playgoers. Hidden music is used with precise dramaturgical intentions in Act 4, Scene 3 of Antony and Cleopatra in a supernatural context.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores both works of art and wider culture in early modern England. The book is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different question about the senses. The first section explores how individual senses appear in particular artworks, considering each of the five senses in turn. The second section explains how the senses were understood in particular early modern contexts explored in works of art, including contexts of night, of sexual pleasure, and of love melancholy. The final section also explores what sensory experiences might have been enacted when early modern subjects actually engaged with works of art, considering practical encounters with playhouse performance, painting and printed drama.
Robert Burton indicates that love, just like melancholy, can be detected through a number of symptoms, which are similar to the symptoms of melancholy that are consistently identified in the medical literature of the period. This chapter examines the effects of love melancholy over the senses in the works of an early modern woman writer, Mary Wroth. Wroth's works deal with love melancholy, and consistently evoke its effects over the characters in terms of an opposition between the 'external' and the 'internal senses'. The chapter demonstrates that this distinction was formulated by Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages and had an important influence on Renaissance medicine. It examines several examples taken first from Countess of Montgomery's Urania, then from Love's Victory, and finally from Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, which best illustrate Wroth's understanding of love melancholy as a disruption of the division between the 'external' and the 'internal senses'.
Robert Herrick's early modern English verse explores the surfaces of bodies, their sensing orifices and the liquefying experiences of sensation. Herrick, however, does imagine all five senses to enable 'physical invasion of the body'. This chapter argues that Herrick's poetics reveal that all objects act like fluids when they are seen, tasted, touched, heard or smelled, or, rather, when they are textualized or poeticized as sensible things. It is Francis Bacon's sixth sense that finally helps to explain Herrick's liquefying depictions of the five traditional senses. In Hesperides, the desire for sexual pleasure defines the experience of sensation. Herrick's poetry is both about sensation and a demonstration of the experience of sensation. Herrick's liquefying senses might make the most sense when we remember that the language of poetry is always the language of bodily sensation.
The results of Molecules, Series 1 depicts three of the most influential molecules that defined twentieth-century perfumery, aldehyde C12, Iso E Super®, and Galaxolide. It joins a long art historical tradition of cross-modal representations of sensation, particularly smell. This chapter examines a few of the many early modern pomanders housed in private and public collections. It explores whether a molecule can be considered fine art, and, if so, which representation of that molecule best captures its olfactory beauty and renders it 'visible'. To understand the cultural signification of early modern pomanders requires a synaesthetic approach: we must train ourselves to 'see' smell in the past. To see smell in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries involves fine arts and photography, the chemicals that we recognize as perfume transcribed into abstraction, either through elevating their chemical bonds into gilded prints or capturing their reaction through photography.
This book attempts to interrogate the literary, artistic and cultural output of early modern England. Following Constance Classen's view that understandings of the senses, and sensory experience itself, are culturally and historically contingent; it explores the culturally specific role of the senses in textual and aesthetic encounters in England. The book follows Joachim-Ernst Berendt's call for 'a democracy of the senses' in preference to the various sensory hierarchies that have often shaped theory and criticism. It argues that the playhouse itself challenged its audiences' reliance on the evidence of their own eyes, teaching early modern playgoers how to see and how to interpret the validity of the visual. The book offers an essay on each of the five senses, beginning and ending with two senses, taste and smell, that are often overlooked in studies of early modern culture. It investigates Robert Herrick's accounts in Hesperides of how the senses function during sexual pleasure and contact. The book also explores sensory experiences, interrogating textual accounts of the senses at night in writings from the English Renaissance. It offers a picture of early modern thought in which sensory encounters are unstable, suggesting ways in which the senses are influenced by the contexts in which they are experienced: at night, in states of sexual excitement, or even when melancholic. The book looks at the works of art themselves and considers the significance of the senses for early modern subjects attending a play, regarding a painting, and reading a printed volume.
This chapter is a response to Farah Karim-Cooper's provocative analysis of touch and, to a lesser extent taste, in the early modern playhouse, by focusing on the specifics of the way in which taste was literally and metaphorically 'staged'. It explores the divided reputation that tasting sense had in early modern England, drawing on visual, medical and moral traditions. The chapter covers material tasting by examining the ways in which the physical action of tasting was presented on stage and presents a short analysis of Thomas Dekker and Philip Massinger's The Virgin Martyr. It looks at figurative and semi-figurative uses of taste in early modern plays, concluding with an account of William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. The chapter brings the material and immaterial tasting together in an analysis of Thomas Middleton's taste-infused tragedy Women Beware Women.
This chapter examines the barber's shop as a sound-marked, cultural site of acoustic performance and practice and investigates how ears were treated, entertained and abused in barbery settings. It focuses on the connections between the site specificity and the 'earwitness' of the theatre and the shop. Bruce Smith, Emily Cockayne, Wes Folkerth, David Garrioch and Bruce Johnson have drawn on soundscape theorists and the language of acoustemology to reconstruct the sound maps of the early modern past with reference to literary works. The chapter draws on the theory and historicity of these studies defining its own dramaturgical, and socially and medically situated acoustic field to uncover how barbery informed cultural conceptions of the early modern listening world. Early modern writers often characterize the excrement of the ear by its bitter taste. The chapter discusses its beneficial properties, which are portrayed by writers as secondary to the wax's execratory quality.