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.

Aurélie Griffin

8 Love melancholy and the senses in Mary Wroth’s works Aurélie Griffin In his Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Robert Burton defines the effects of love on humankind: How it tickles the hearts of mortall men,    Horresco referens, — I am almost afraid to relate, amazed, and ashamed, it hath wrought such stupend and prodigious effects, such foule offences. Love indeed (I may not deny) first united Provinces, built citties, and by a perpetuall generation, makes and preserves mankind, propagates the Church; but if it is rage it is no more Love, but burning lust, a

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Natalie K. Eschenbaum

6 Robert Herrick and the five (or six) senses Natalie K. Eschenbaum When you descend to the lower level of the Art Museum of New South Wales, you are greeted with an intense, pungent, but welcoming aroma. Cinnamon, cardamom and cloves – the same spices that lured English Renaissance traders to India – draw you into a room that houses Ernesto Neto’s installation, Just Like Drops in Time, Nothing.1 Dozens of massive semi-transparent tubes of stocking-like fabric hang from the ceiling, weighted down by hundreds of pounds of ground spices. As Neto’s title prompts

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
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
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)
Farah Karim-Cooper

Afterword Farah Karim-Cooper In 1620, Richard Brathwaite worried that the five senses, which had the capacity to convey ‘morall or diuine discourse to the imagination’, could instead be abused and therefore make the body vulnerable to vice and corruption. Here, Brathwaite demonstrates the tension that existed within the medical and moral discourses on sense perception in the early modern period: the senses were gateways to knowledge and God, but they were bodily channels susceptible to Satan’s devastating influences too.1 Early modern discussions of the senses

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
John Donne, George Chapman and the senses of night in the 1590s
Susan Wiseman

7 ‘Did we lie downe, because ’twas night?’: John Donne, George Chapman and the senses of night in the 1590s Susan Wiseman Above the now lost bough of the rood, in the highest panel of the Doom picture in St Peter’s, Wenhaston, Christ judges the world, whose fate is spread below him. He is seated on a rainbow flanked by the sun to his right and the moon to his left.1 In the early 1500s the story of light and dark expressed in the representation of sun, moon and rainbow above darkness held a clear but also complex and evocative message concerning God’s power. The

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

sounding line, and all the way a palate To tast my meate the longer. I would have My senses feast together; Nature envied us In giving single pleasures; let me have My eares, eyes, palate, nose, and touch, at once Injoy their happinesse[.]1 Acolastus’s desire to prolong and intensify the sensation of taste is evoked in his declaration that to have a neck like a crane – the desire of the glutton, Philoxenus, cited in Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics – displayed a sad lack of ambition. Taste is, for Acolastus, the pinnacle of all other senses, which will ‘feast together’. He

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Staging visual clues and early modern aspiration
Jackie Watson

2 ‘Dove-like looks’ and ‘serpents eyes’: staging visual clues and early modern aspiration Jackie Watson The traditional sensual hierarchy, in the tradition of Aristotle, gave primacy to the sense of sight.1 However, there is much evidence to suggest that the judgements of many late Elizabethans were more ambivalent. In this chapter I shall ask how far an early modern playgoer could trust the evidence of his or her own eyes. Sight was, at the same time, the most perfect of senses and the potential entry route for evil. It was the means by which men and women

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Antony and Cleopatra and visual musical experience
Simon Smith

possible if the idea at the centre of the passage – that musical performance should be experienced through a combination of different senses – did not have a similar centrality in widespread early modern understandings of music. Many scholars argue that sensory experiences are encountered not in isolation, but in combination with one another. Michel Serres asks, ‘How could we see the compact capacity of the senses if we separated them?’, using the five chapters of his seminal work The Five Senses not to consider each sense in turn, MUP_Smith_Printer.indd 167 02

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660