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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.

Sam Barrett

7 Kinship, poor relief and the welfare process in early modern England Sam Barrett The poor in England Kinship, poor relief and the welfare process Overview – the ‘problem’ of kinship Historiographical writing on the depth and functionality of kinship in early modern England is limited. It is also contradictory. On the extent and depth of kinship networks, for instance, early commentators such as Peter Laslett were clear that English households tended to be relatively small and simple and that, because of demographic constraint (migration, ‘background

in The poor in England 1700–1850
Open Access (free)
Oral culture in Britain 1500–1850
Editors: Adam Fox and Daniel Woolf

Human beings have developed a superabundance of ways of communicating with each other. Some, such as writing, are several millennia old. This book focuses on the relationship between speech and writing both within a single language, Welsh, and between two languages, Welsh and English. It demonstrates that the eighteenth-century Scottish clergy used the popular medium of Gaelic in oral and written form to advance the Gospel. The experience of literacy in early modern Wales was often an expression of legal and religious authority reinforced by the spoken word. This included the hearing of proclamations and other black-letter texts publicly read. Literate Protestant clergymen governed and shaped the Gaelic culture by acting as the bridge-builders between oral and literary traditions, and as arbiters of literary taste and the providers of reading material for newly literate people. The book also offers some illustrations of how anecdotes became social tools which used to make points not only in private correspondence but also in civil conversation in early modern England. Locating vagabonds and minstrels, and other wanderers on the margins of settled society depended on the survival of the appropriate historical record. Cautionary tales of the judgements God visited upon flagrant and incorrigible sinners circulated widely in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England: stories of sabbath-breakers, swearers, drunkards, adulterers and other ungodly livers struck down suddenly by the avenging arm of the Almighty. During the age of Enlightenment, intellectual culture nourished a new understanding of non-literate language and culture.

The trial in history, volume I

This book examines trials, civil and criminal, ecclesiastical and secular, in England and Europe between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries. The cases examined range from a fourteenth century cause-célèbre, the attempted trial of Pope Boniface VIII for heresy, to investigations of obscure people for sexual and religious offences in the city states of Geneva and Venice. These are examples of the operation in the past of different legal, judicial systems, applied by differently constituted courts, royal and manorial, secular and ecclesiastical, which adopted different procedures, adversarial and inquisitorial. Ranging from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century, the book considers criminal trials and civil litigation conducted in royal, manorial and Church courts in late medieval and early modern England. These trials concentrate on the structure, jurisdiction, functions, and procedures of the courts and on the roles of the judges of fact and of law, both amateur and professional, who composed them. The trials of Giorgio Moreto and of Laura Querini were influenced by the politics of the Venetian State and its ongoing and highly charged relationship with the power of the Church. Discussing the legal history of continental Europe, the book then shifts the emphasis from the judges and jurors to the prisoners arraigned before the courts, to the victims of prosecution or to the highly questionable images of them created by their enemies.

Open Access (free)
Simon Smith, Jackie Watson, and Amy Kenny

Introduction Simon Smith, Jackie Watson and Amy Kenny What can texts, performances and artworks tell us about the senses in early modern England? The sensory experiences of subjects living some four centuries ago are to some degree lost. We cannot hope to recreate the experiences of hearing, smelling and feeling the interior environment of a church at a service in the 1590s, or seeing, touching and tasting the River Thames on a boat journey in the 1640s. Today, we might encounter early modern culture through language, sight and touch, mediated by written texts

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Open Access (free)
Conversations about the past in Restoration and eighteenth-century England
Daniel Woolf

which history continued to be spoken aloud, in various social contexts, in early modern England. With occasional backward glances toward the Renaissance, the focus is on the period from the Restoration to the late eighteenth century, the era when the printed history book (and its narrative rival, the novel) made their greatest inroads into the book-selling market. I do not attempt to deal with every type of oral discussion of the past. The matter of ‘oral residue’ in Renaissance prose has been explored adequately by Father Walter J. Ong, and in another essay I have

in The spoken word
The pleasure of reading comedies in early modern England
Hannah August

11 ‘Tickling the senses with sinful delight’: the pleasure of reading comedies in early modern England Hannah August In the introduction to Shakespearean Sensations (2013), Katharine A. Craik and Tanya Pollard foreground the degree to which early modern antitheatricalists’ anxieties about the theatre are couched in descriptions of sensory affect. They cite Stephen Gosson’s complaint that plays’ ‘straunge consortes of melody [...] tickle the ear’, the actors’ ‘costly apparel [...] flatter[s] the sight’, while their ‘effeminate gesture[s] [...] ravish the sence

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
An examination of touching moments in dance of court and courtship
Darren Royston

in social situations in early modern England and will examine how the private sensations produced were then recorded and commented upon in different written, visual and theatrical forms. Sometimes the purpose of such records was for practical instruction, and I will consider 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. From this practical understanding of the dance technique based on touching between partners, this chapter will consider the representation of

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Open Access (free)
Lucy Munro

specifics of the way in which taste was literally and metaphorically ‘staged’. My focus is on the precise moments at which characters are required to taste something – foodstuffs, drink, other characters’ lips – and the ways in which these moments supplement, reinforce or, potentially, challenge a discourse of taste that is deployed elsewhere in the plays and in early modern culture. The first section, ‘Tasting’, explores the divided reputation that this sense had in early modern England, drawing on visual, medical and moral traditions. The remainder of the essay then

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Open Access (free)
Maureen Mulholland

, ranging from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century, consider criminal trials and civil litigation conducted in royal, manorial and Church courts in late medieval and early modern England. They concentrate on the structure, jurisdiction, functions, and procedures of the courts and on the roles of the judges of fact and of law, both amateur and professional, who composed them. By way of contrast, chapters 6 to 9, on the legal history of continental Europe, shift the emphasis from the judges and jurors to the prisoners arraigned before the courts, to the victims of

in Judicial tribunals in England and Europe, 1200–1700