Carol Falvo Heffernan, The Melancholy Muse

In The Melancholy Muse, Carol Falvo Heffernan’s central argument is that Chaucer and Shakespeare, as emblematic authors of their respective periods, had extensive knowledge of the medical discourse of their day and used that experience when writing. Her central point is that Chaucer and Shakespeare are taking the knowledge of their time about melancholy and… Continue reading Carol Falvo Heffernan, The Melancholy Muse

A Disputation Between the Body and the Worms

This is one primary text I am using that doesn’t contain an explicit mention of sorrow or melancholy. I am mainly interested in it because of its associations with earth and the extended descriptions of decomposition it contains. I am interested in these things because the first is intimately tied together with melancholy in the… Continue reading A Disputation Between the Body and the Worms

Staring by Rosemarie Garland-Thompson

Garland-Thompson is interested in the cultural status of the stare– what it does, and how it can be used. Staring, she argues, is a social taboo, which is seen as isolating, dominating and othering. However, staring can also be seen as a moment of connection. If we stare at human variation, then “staring makes things… Continue reading Staring by Rosemarie Garland-Thompson

Damien Boquet & Piroska Nagy, Medieval Sensibilities

This extensive study is attempting to do two things: provide a history of cultural medieval affect in particular, and rehabilitate the status of affect studies in general. Arguing that emotion has been neglected, especially in the premodern period, it focuses on the study of “sensibility”, or the sensible, which includes not only feelings but moods… Continue reading Damien Boquet & Piroska Nagy, Medieval Sensibilities

Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy

I’m unsure how to begin to write about something that is essentially a collection of lists and attributions. Anatomy of Melancholy begins with a series of portraits of the different kinds of melancholy, as well as little poems about them: hypochondria, mania, and lovesickness all make an appearance. Mania (characterized as violent and insane) has… Continue reading Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy

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