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.

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
Open Access (free)
Holly Dugan

aesthetic one. Part of this has to do with the conventions of early modern art. As François Quiviger has argued, the relationship between these two sensory modes in Italian renaissance art is complex: flowers, for instance, are common allegories of both visual and olfactory beauty. Likewise, the sensory horrors of plague, particularly the stench associated with death, are rarely depicted visually, and are usually signified by a single figure, holding his nose.31 Beyond signifying a good or bad scent, what do visual clues signify? When olfaction is depicted extensively, it

in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660
Open Access (free)
Greeks and Saracens inGuy of Warwick
Rebecca Wilcox

journey to the East spurs Guy to victory, both in arms and spiritually, but it also leads him back home to fulfil his duties to England. Guy’s conquests in Constantinople and the Holy Land reinforce not only Western stereotypes of the East, but also the sense of Englishness against which these stereotyped images appear more alien. While the double cycle that leads Guy from England to the East and back again emerges as a way of ordering and recognising coherence in this episodic romance, the Auchinleck version of Guy of Warwick offers the reader a visual clue as well: it

in Pulp fictions of medieval England