The Experience of Disaster in Early Modern English Literature  book cover
1st Edition

The Experience of Disaster in Early Modern English Literature

Edited By

Sophie Chiari

ISBN 9781032225722
Published May 6, 2022 by Routledge
198 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book addresses the concept of ‘disaster’ through a variety of literary texts dating back to the early modern period. While Shakespeare’s age, which was an era of colonisation, certainly marked a turning point in men and women’s relations with nature, the present times seem to announce the advent of environmental justice in spite of the massive ecological destructions that have contributed to reshape our planet. Between then and now, a whole history of climatic disasters and of their artistic depictions needs to be traced. The literary representations of eco-catastrophes, in particular, have consistently fashioned the English identity and led to the progress of science and the ‘advancement of learning’. They have also obliged us to adapt, recycle and innovate. How could the destructive process entailed by ecological disasters be represented on the page and thereby transformed into a creative process encouraging meditation, preservation and resilience in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? To this question, this book offers nuanced, contextualised and perceptive answers. Divided into three main sections ‘Extreme Conditions’, ‘Tempestuous Skies’, and ‘Biblical Calamities,' it deals with the major environmental issues of our time through the prism of early modern culture and literature.

Table of Contents

General Introduction

Sophie Chiari

PART I. Extreme Conditions

Chapter 1

‘Shakespeare, Natural Disaster, and Atmospheric Phenomena’

Geraldo U. de Sousa

Chapter 2

‘Frozen: English Journeys to the End of the World’

Sophie Lemercier-Goddard

Chapter 3

‘Musical Representations of Natural Phenomena in Early Modern English Madrigals’

Chantal Schütz

PART II. Tempestuous Skies

Chapter 4

‘Man in Stormy Weathers in the Age of Shakespeare’

Danièle Berton-Charrière

Chapter 5

‘The Storms of Othello in 1613’

David M. Bergeron

Chapter 6

‘Francis Bacon and the Mastery of the Winds’

Angus Vine

PART III. Biblical Calamities

Chapter 7

‘The Plague of Gnats in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries’

Sophie Chiari

Chapter 8

‘Michael Drayton and the Invention of the Disaster Epic: Eco-catastrophe in the Late Poems’

Todd A. Borlik

Chapter 9

‘John Ray’s Inquiry into the Future Dissolution of the World in The Miscellaneous Discourses

Michaël Popelard


‘Climate Change and the Postsecular in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

John Gillies

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Sophie Chiari is a tenured professor of early modern English Literature at Université Clermont Auvergne. She holds a doctoral degree from Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier 3, France, and she received her accreditation to supervise research from Université Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle. Among her recently published collections of essays are Freedom and Censorship in Early Modern English Literature (2018) and Performances at Court in the Age of Shakespeare, co-edited with John Mucciolo (2019). Her monograph Shakespeare’s Representation of Weather, Climate and Environment, was published in 2019 and her latest book, entitled Shakespeare and the Environment: A Dictionary, was published in early 2022.