Volume 1 (2014)

Emotions in History

Imogen Forbes-Macphail – Editor’s Foreword

I am delighted to present the inaugural edition of Ceræ: An Australasian Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, on the theme of ‘Emotions in History’. This journal was conceived in 2013 with the intention not only of strengthening the Australasian community of graduate students and early career researchers working in the field of medieval and early modern studies, but also of providing a forum which would enable scholars to publish their work in a new, open-access venue and to incorporate, if desired, multimedia and digital components in their work through taking advantage of the online medium.

The selection of articles in this issue covers an impressive range of topics, including representations of peasant anger in twelfth-century historical accounts, questions of humoural theory in the writings of Henry More, an investigation of the trope of melting in early modern poetry, the relationship between passion and reason in Marlowe’s Edward II, Freudian theories of laughter in relation to the plays of Shakespeare, gendered representations of Elizabeth Woodville in Philippa Gregory’s contemporary medievalist fiction, and the hyper-feminisation of the single-action harp in the late eighteenth century. These articles, while drawing from a variety of disciplines and theoretical approaches, are all united in examining, in one form or another, questions concerning the representation, articulation, understanding or expression of emotions in the medieval and early modern period, and their diversity reflects the complexity and scope of this topic.

The name ‘Ceræ’ refers to the reusable wax tablets used throughout antiquity and the medieval period, and suggests the malleability and flexibility of the medium of online publishing, which can similarly be overwritten, re-inscribed, and put to a number of unconventional uses that may not be available to print works. We are happy to have received several submissions incorporating digital components, although none have yet reached the publication stage, and are delighted to be able to review several digital humanities projects alongside our more traditional book reviews. We hope that this aspect of the journal will develop further over the forthcoming years.

We would like to extend our appreciation to the many organisations and individuals who have enabled us to realise this project — most specifically, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, which has generously sponsored a prize for the best article published in this issue; the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Western Australia, which has contributed further funding to this prize; and the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia, which has provided valuable and much-needed support for the costs of running the journal in its first year.

We are grateful, furthermore, to the numerous peer reviewers who have contributed their time to this enterprise; to Andrew Lynch, Anne Scott, and Bob White, for their invaluable advice and counselling in the early stages of this project; to Lesley O’Brien for editing assistance; and to Toby Burrows, whose knowledge and tireless assistance has been essential in enabling us to set up our current journal management system. Most of all, we would like to remember Professor Philippa Maddern, who passed away earlier this year. Philippa Maddern was one of our very first supporters and advisors in the initial stages of this project. Over the past year, she assisted us to secure funding, to source and contact peer-reviewers, reviewed our early website and promotional materials, and offered invaluable guidance on numerous matters. Ceræ would simply not exist as it does today without her assistance; and aside from the debt owed to her by the journal, I know Philippa to have individually touched the lives of many of our committee members. She will be very sadly missed by all of us.

Imogen Forbes-Macphail, University of Western Australia.

Themed Articles

Sarah Antinora – Please Let This Be Much Ado about Nothing: ‘Kill Claudio’ and the Laughter of Release

Abstract: This article centers on the oft-criticized and baffling laughter elicited by Beatrice’s ‘Kill Claudio’ in Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing. Although many productions take pains to avoid this laughter response, the tensions built in the aborted wedding of Hero and Claudio require release. In his theory of relief, Freud posits that laughter is the means by which psychic tension is released. Laughter in the moments up to and including Beatrice’s order does not carry the same emotional tension as that elicited by Dogberry’s malapropisms, the early witty banter between Beatrice and Benedick, nor the farce or slapstick of other Shakespearean plays. Instead, the laughter in this moment is a by-product of an audience’s desire to expel the tension amassed at the scathing dismissal and fall of Hero, to return to the comic tone of earlier scenes, and most importantly to return to safety. Rather than avoiding this audience reaction, productions should recognize the laughter’s role as a communal emotional response.

Sarah Antinora, University of California, Riverside

Andrea Brady – The Physics of Melting in Early Modern Love Poetry

Abstract: Melting is a familiar trope in early modern erotic poetry, where it can signify the desire to transform the beloved from icy chastity through the warmth of the lover’s passion. However, this Petrarchan convention can be defamiliarised by thinking about the experiences of freezing and melting in this period. Examining melting in the discourses of early modern meteorology, medicine, proverb, scientific experiments, and preservative technologies, as well as weather of the Little Ice Age and the exploration of frozen hinterlands, this essay shows that our understanding of seeming constants – whether they be the physical properties of water or the passions of love – can be modulated through attention to the specific histories of cognition and of embodiment.

Andrea Brady, Queen Mary University of London

Volume 1 Essay Prize Winner

Christine Edwards – ‘In No Respect Can Contraries be True’: Passion and Reason in Marlowe’s Edward II

Abstract: In Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II the relationship between passion and reason becomes powerfully relevant to the factional strife between the king and his barons. As the conflict escalates, one character exclaims that ‘in no respect can contraries be true’ (I.4.249), yet the play as a whole seems to refute this claim. While Edward has the right to claim the loyalty that his kingship entails and put down the revolt of his barons, the barons express a similar duty to remove the king’s favourite, Gaveston, for the benefit of the state. Both positions are true, and this presents a problem for the audience who seek to comprehend which faction they should support. In Marlowe’s view, contrariety is not so much a theory as an experience: and the audience is led to experience doubt. The play highlights the monstrous excesses of extreme passion and extreme reason as problematic attempts to make sense of the confusion of the play. In this paper, I will argue that Marlowe structures his play to first evoke and then actively question traditional representations of the relationship between passion and reason.

Christine Edwards, University of Queensland

Hannah Lane – ‘L’orage des passions’: Expressing Emotion on the Eighteenth-Century French Single-action Harp

Abstract: The single-action harp was introduced to France in the mid-eighteenth century. The instrument’s popularity reached its zenith in pre-revolutionary Paris as evidenced by the large number of method books and original compositions published for the instrument during this time. One of the first published references to this instrument was an entry in Diderot’s iconic Encyclopédie (1751-1772) where the author states that the instrument is ‘most suited to expressing tenderness and pain than the other emotions of the soul’. Through reading across key contemporaneous pedagogical, literary and musical sources, with a particular focus on those of influential harpist, writer and pedagogue Stéphanie-Félicité de Genlis (née Du Crest 1746-1830), this paper interrogates how these emotions were performed and expressed on the single-action harp. Recent scholarship has focused on the instrument’s social and gender role, in particular its radical feminisation, in which Genlis has been positioned as a major influence. This article builds upon this research to consider the gendered nature of emotions as expressed on the single-action harp as well as contextualising the instrument’s unique mode of musical-emotional expression within the new musical aesthetic of the late eighteenth century, the Galant and Empfindsamer styles.

Hannah Lane, Australian National University

This article was reprinted in The American Harp Journal, 28.1 (2021), 29-35.
Kate McGrath – Peasant Anger and Violence in the Writings of Orderic Vitalis

Abstract: This paper examines the representation of peasant anger in the writings of Orderic Vitalis. In his texts, Orderic often associates peasant anger with divine vengeance and just violence. Peasants are propelled to act because there are no other agents to help restore order; faced with the unrestrained violence of bad lords, Orderic describes peasants using their anger to ensure justice. Moreover, the low status of peasants ensures an appropriately ignoble death for such lords. Understanding the customary norms around peasant anger reflected in Orderic’s work, then, is an important part of understanding medieval models of honourable violence.

Kate McGrath, Central Connecticut State University

Laura Saxton – ‘There is more to the story than this, of course’: Character and Affect in Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen

Abstract: Philippa Gregory has critiqued gendered representations of Elizabeth Woodville and has stated that her 2009 novel The White Queen fictionalises Woodville’s history with the aim of challenging such depictions. There imagining of Elizabeth’s affect drives her narrative and is integral to reconsidering this past, yet these emotions do not differ from those characterisations that Gregory has criticised; lust and love are key motivators for Elizabeth who is vengeful and proud, and she is defined in terms of her familial relationships. Utilising a postmodern perspective, this paper will analyse the characterisation of Elizabeth Woodville in Philippa Gregory’s novel The White Queen and argue that the novel does not diverge significantly from contemporaneous accounts of Woodville’s life. In suggesting that the novel resembles rather than challenges representations found in texts contemporaneous to Gregory’s own, the paper will contextualise Gregory’s characterisation using two biographical accounts published shortly before the release of The White Queen: Arlene Okerlund’s Elizabeth Wydeville: The Slandered Queen, and David Loades ’‘The Queen As Lover: Elizabeth Woodville’ in The Tudor Queens Of England.

Laura Saxton, Australian Catholic University

David Thorley – The Melancholy of Henry More

Abstract: This article treats Henry More’s philosophical approach to melancholy and his personal experience of the disease. Koen Vermeir argues that, in approaching the imagination philosophically, More was performing a ‘balancing act’ between addressing the subject as a medium between soul and body, and regarding it as a non-corporeal vehicle of reason and the spirit. ‘In his life’, Vermeir adds, ‘More was also performing a balancing act’: both an opponent of and subject to enthusiasm. In this article, I give closer scrutiny to that balancing act, charting the points of distinction and overlap between More’s philosophy of and encounters with melancholy. In the search for relief for his symptoms, I argue, More deployed two significant (and related) techniques: practising philosophy and engaging in epistolary correspondence.

David Thorley, University of Durham

Volume 1 Essay Prize Winner


Broadside Ballads Online (Marcus Harmes)

Broadside Ballads Online (Bodleian Libraries, 1999-). Online http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Reviewed by: Marcus Harmes, University of Southern Queensland

Michael Chidester and Christian Trosclair, Wiktenauer (Michael Ovens)

Michael Chidester and Christian Trosclair, Wiktenauer (Historical European Martial Arts Alliance, 2009-). Online http://wiktenauer.com/

Reviewed by: Michael Ovens, University of Western Australia

Thomas Meyer, Beowulf: A Translation (Jane-Anne Denison)

Thomas Meyer, Beowulf: A Translation (New York: Punctum Books, 2012). 312 pp. $15.00/€14.00 Print + Open-Access E-book, http://punctumbooks.com/titles/thomas-meyer-beowulf/, ISBN: 9780615612652.

Reviewed by: Jane-Anne Denison, University of Highlands and Islands

Joan Cadden, Nothing Natural is Shameful: Sodomy and Science in Late Medieval Europe (Melissa Michele Russell)

Joan Cadden, Nothing Natural is Shameful: Sodomy and Science in Late Medieval Europe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). Print, 327 pp., US$85.00, ISBN: 9780812245370.

Reviewed by: Melissa Michele Russell, Curtin University

Elena Carrera, ed., Emotions and Health, 1200-1700 (Mark Neuendorf)

Elena Carrera, ed., Emotions and Health, 1200-1700 (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2013). Print,xii + 247 pp., $147/€107, ISBN:9789004250826.

Reviewed by: Mark Neuendorf, University of Adelaide

Joseph A. Dane, Blind Impressions: Methods and Mythologies in Book History (Alana Bennett)

Joseph A. Dane, Blind Impressions: Methods and Mythologies in Book History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). Print, 228 pp., US$65.00, ISBN: 9780812245493.

Reviewed by: Alana Bennett, University of York

Stefka Georgieva Eriksen, Writing and Reading in Medieval Manuscript Culture: The Translation and Transmission of the Story of Elye in Old French and Old Norse Literary Contexts (Kelly Midgley)

Stefka Georgieva Eriksen, Writing and Reading in Medieval Manuscript Culture: The Translation and Transmission of the Story of Elye in Old French and Old Norse Literary Contexts (Turnhout:Brepols, 2014). Print, xxii+262pp., 12 colour ill., ISBN:9782503547794.

Reviewed by: Kelly Midgley, University of Western Australia

Bridget Escolme, Emotional Excess on the Shakespearean Stage: Passion’s Slaves (Brid Mary Phillips)

Bridget Escolme, Emotional Excess on the Shakespearean Stage: Passion’s Slaves (London: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2013). Print, 344pp., $36.99, ISBN: 9781408179666.

Reviewed by: Brid Mary Philips, University of Western Australia

David Hawkes and Richard G. Newhauser, eds., The Book of Nature and Humanity in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (James L. Smith)

David Hawkes and Richard G. Newhauser, eds., The Book of Nature and Humanity in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013). Print, xxvi + 322 pp., 19 b/w ill., ISBN: 9782503549217.

Reviewed by: James L. Smith, University of Western Australia

Jón Viđar Sigurđssom, and Thomas Småberg, eds., Friendship and Social Networks in Scandinavia, c.1000-1800 (Deborah Seiler)

Jón Viđar Sigurđssom, and Thomas Småberg, eds, Friendship and Social Networks in Scandinavia, c.1000-1800 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013). Print, 310 pp, 3 b/w ill., ISBN: 9782503542485.

Reviewed by: Deborah Seiler, University of Western Australia

Stephanie Trigg, Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter (Hilary Jane Locke)

Stephanie Trigg, Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). Print, 322 pp., $55.00, ISBN: 9780812243918.

Reviewed by: Hilary Jane Locke, The University of Adelaide

Featured Image: Woodcut illustration of the Four Humours, Leonhard Thurneysser, ‘Quinta Essentia’, Leipzig, 1574.