The Renaissance of emotion

Understanding affect in Shakespeare and his contemporaries

Edited by Richard Meek and Erin Sullivan

The Renaissance of emotion


  • Paperback
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9078-3
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: June 2015
  • BIC Category: The arts / Theatre studies, Literature & literary studies / Shakespeare studies & criticism, Early Modern Literature, Literature, Literature: history & criticism, Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literary studies: c 1600 to c 1800, English, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / Shakespeare, LITERARY CRITICISM / General


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 Renaissance of Emotion seeks to broaden our frame of reference, locating early modern emotions within a wider cultural framework of religion, philosophy, politics, and rhetoric.'
Katharine A. Craik, Oxford Brookes University, Renaissance Quarterly 69.4 (Winter 2016)

'An important collection of essays that can stand as a survey-sample of some of the best work currently being done in the field. The thoughtful and carefully argued introduction offers a historiographical overview of the rise to prominence of the emotions in philosophy, psychology and literary studies, challenges some of the established critical orthodoxies, and opens some avenues into new research.'
Freya Sierhuis (York), Bücherschau

'Every well-crafted essay has something genuinely original to offer and which is indeed taking discussion forward.'
Lesel Dawson is a senior lecturer at in the department of English at Bristol University. Eric Langley is a lecturer in the department of English at University College London, Early Theatre 20.1


Richard Meek and Erin Sullivan
Part I - The theology and philosophy of emotion
1: The passions of Thomas Wright: Renaissance emotion across body and soul - Erin Sullivan
2: 'The scripture moveth us in sundry places': framing biblical emotions in the Book of Common Prayer and the Homilies - David Bagchi
3: 'This was a way to thrive': Christian and Jewish eudaimonism in The Merchant of Venice - Sara Coodin
4: Robert Burton, perfect happiness and the visio dei - Mary Ann Lund
Part II - Shakespeare and the language of emotion
5: Spleen in Shakespeare's comedies - Nigel Wood
6: 'Rue even for ruth': Richard II and the imitation of sympathy - Richard Meek
7: What's happiness in Hamlet? - Richard Chamberlain
Part 3 - The performance of emotion
8: 'They that tread in a maze': movement as emotion in John Lyly - Andy Kesson
9: (S)wept from power: two versions of tyrannicide in Richard III - Ann Kaegi
10: The affective scripts of early modern execution and murder - Frederika Bain
11: Discrepant emotional awareness in Shakespeare - R. S. White and Ciara Rawnsley
Afterword - Peter Holbrook


Richard Meek is Lecturer in English at the University of Hull

Erin Sullivan is Lecturer and Fellow in the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham

The Renaissance of emotion

Edited by Richard Meek, Erin Sullivan

Hardcover £90.00 / $140.00

Paperback £18.99 / $27.95

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