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.

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

Sidney, Mary Wroth both represented the ways in which melancholy was believed to affect the senses, and exploited the connection between melancholy and creativity, locating her writing in contemporary debates surrounding the ‘disease’. MUP_Smith_Printer.indd 12 02/04/2015 16:18 Introduction 13 The essays in this section offer 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

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Women performers and the law in the ‘long’ Edwardian period
Viv Gardner

. Billing argued that if Salome was, as he believed, ‘a grossly immoral play, and one which persons of a healthy mind and wishing to remain healthy would do well not to witness’, then ‘moral perverts, with their perversions lying dormant, might be led by seeing pantomimic acts of sadism [referring to Salome’s sexual excitement as she bites the lips of the dead Jokanaan] to practice them themselves, and that in enacting this, Allan was “committing an act of sadism” herself’. Allan responded that she had not written the play. ‘But’, Billing went on, ‘ you are acting the

in Stage women, 1900–50
Open Access (free)
Melissa Dickson, Emilie Taylor-Brown and Sally Shuttleworth

contemporary anxieties surrounding the effects on public health of modern technologies and the shocks and strains they imposed. 27 Similarly, concerns were being raised by British and French doctors in the 1860s surrounding the sexual excitement supposedly being induced in female users of the sewing machine. 28 In such diagnoses, it is clear that definitions and perceptions of disease actively inform and are informed by their broader social contexts in terms of class, race

in Progress and pathology