The hurt(ful) body

Performing and beholding pain, 1600–1800

This book offers a cross-disciplinary approach to pain and suffering in the early modern period, based on research in the fields of literary studies, art history, theatre studies, cultural history and the study of emotions. Part I of the book discusses, inter alia, the different forms of how suffering was staged, how that staging anticipated certain affects of the onlooker. The focus is on early modern French tragedy and how theatre chose to represent violence, the shocking events of infanticide, and the representation of the enslaved body, where suffering and exoticism go hand in hand. Part II deals with the question of how the availability (both physically and conceptually) of a beholder affects the pain of a victim. It reaffirms the role that words that stand in for pain can have in consolidating the harrowing experience of watching 'King Lear'. It explores the motif of the captivating power of the woman's gaze as part of a wider discourse of male anxiety, and deals with the issue of a (neo-) Epicurean image criticism. The case of Irish Rebellion is used to discuss several forms of witnessing horror, pain and torture in the context of religious and colonial massacres. Part III of the book discusses the executions of Palermo and the role pain played in stock trade discourses in the early modern Dutch Republic. The different forms of punishment at stake, whether in a theatrical or a dramatic scene, imply modes of subjection that were deeply coloured theologically.

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