Disease, Diagnosis, and Cure on the Early Modern Stage: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Disease, Diagnosis, and Cure on the Early Modern Stage

1st Edition

By Stephanie Moss

Edited by Kaara L. Peterson


240 pages

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This collection of essays makes an important contribution to scholarship by examining how the myths and practices of medical knowledge were interwoven into popular entertainment on the early modern stage. Rather than treating medicine, the theater, and literary texts separately, the contributors show how the anxieties engendered by medical socio-scientific investigations were translated from the realm of medicine to the stage by Renaissance playwrights, especially Shakespeare. As a whole, the volume reconsiders typical ways of viewing medical theory and practice while individual essays focus on gender and ethnicity, theatrical impersonation, medical counterfeit and malfeasance, and medicine as it appears in the form of various political metaphors.


'This stimulating collection of essays… makes a welcome addition to a growing bibliography; and, collectively, it also makes clear how much the playwrights of this period strove not only to represent the corporeal obsessions of their culture, but to imagine them anew.' Renaissance Quarterly ’Imtiaz Habib's theorized focus on the politics of Elizabethan mental health in relation to race and discourses of nationhood yields some fascinating observations about 'racial psychoanalysis'… Louise Noble's exploration of 'mummy' and the therapeutic value of Desdemona's corpse produces some remarkable insights, while Lynette Hunter's knowledgeable study of figural/literal 'cankers' in Romeo and Juliet is equally innovative and thought-provoking… Ashgate's bold foray into the widely uncharted territory of the 'Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity' is to be recommended - I, for one, eagerly await more titles in this series.’ Medical History ’Stephanie Moss and Kaara Peterson's edited volume offers up a set of useful and engaging essays that explore the historical and literary significance of various medical references and representations in the work of English dramatists.’ Bulletin of the History of Medicine

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I Performance and the Practitioner: Performing arts: hysterical disease, exorcism, and Shakespeare's theater, Kaara L. Peterson; 'No faith in physic': masquerades of medicine onstage and off, Tanya Pollard; 'Note her a little farther': doctors and healers in the drama of Shakespeare, Barbara Howard Traister. Part II Race, Nationhood, And Discourses Of Medicine: Hot blood: estranging Mediterranean bodies in Early Modern medical and dramatic texts, Carol Thomas Neely; 'Some love that drew him oft from home': syphilis and international commerce in The Comedy of Errors, Jonathan Gil Harris; Elizabethan racial medical psychology, popular drama, and the social programming of the Late-Tudor black: sketching an exploratory postcolonial hypothesis, Imtiaz Habib; Infectious rape, therapeutic revenge: bloodletting and the health of Rome's body, Catherine Belling. Part III Competing Discourses: The Fille Vièrge as Pharmakon: the therapeutic value of Desdemona's corpse, Louise Noble; Transformation and degeneration: the Paracelsan/Galenic body in Othello, Stephanie Moss; Cankers in Romeo and Juliet: 16th-century medicine at a figural/literal cusp, Lynette Hunter. Works cited; Index.

About the Series

Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity

Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity
For more than a decade now, Literary and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity has provided a forum for groundbreaking work on the relations between literary and scientific discourses in Europe, during a period when both fields were in a crucial moment of historical formation. We welcome proposals that address the many overlaps between modes of imaginative writing typical of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”poetics, rhetoric, prose narrative, dramatic production, utopia”and the vocabularies, conceptual models, and intellectual methods of newly emergent 'scientific' fields such as medicine, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, psychology, mapping, mathematics, or natural history. In order to reflect the nature of intellectual inquiry during the period, the series is interdisciplinary in orientation and publishes monographs, edited collections, and selected critical editions of primary texts relevant to an understanding of the mutual implication of literary and scientific epistemologies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature