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Kibrina Davey

‘To Die Upon a Kiss’: Violent Love in Early Modern Tragedy


Discipline/professional area

Outline of research project

This study will seek to tackle the topic of love and death in early modern tragedy through the lens of medical and proto-psychological, classical and Renaissance theories. Specifically, Renaissance doctrines on the passions and humours, which will be central in informing this study as it aims to investigate how the imbalance of the elements named above could result in violence, illness and eventual death. 

It will also examine how love often causes and heightens other passions such as sadness or anger and the negative effects that this has on characters, including the devastated Penthea in John Ford's The Broken Heart (1633), leading eventually to deterioration of the mind and body, violence against themselves and others, and ultimately, death. This historicist approach will also be combined with a performance studies angle, addressing questions about the circulation of emotion between actor and audience in specific contemporary productions of early modern tragedies.

Key References

Bright, Timothie, A Treatise of Melancholy (Early English Books 1475-1640, 1586)

Burton, Robert, The Anatomy of Melancholy (London: J. W. Moore, 1847)

Hobgood, Allison, P..Passionate Playgoing in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Paster, Gail Kern, Kathleen Rowe, Mary Floyd-Wilson, Reading the Early Modern Passions: Essays the Cultural History of Emotions (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Press, 2004)

Reddy, William, The Making of Romantic Love: Longing and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia, and Japan, 900-1200 CE (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012)

Wells, Marion. A, The Secret Wound: Love Melancholy and Early Modern Romance (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006)

Director of studies
Professor Lisa Hopkins

Dr Annaliese Connolly

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