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The Reformation of Emotions in the Age of Shakespeare$
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Steven Mullaney

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226547633

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226117096.001.0001

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(p.1) Prologue
The Reformation of Emotions in the Age of Shakespeare

Steven Mullaney

University of Chicago Press

The Prologue opens with an emblematic moment in 1549, when Lord Protector Somerset ordered the Ossuary at St. Paul’s emptied and the bones of four hundred years of loved ones, ancestors, and neighbors dumped in a marsh. Radical protestants sought to dissociate the present from the past in extreme, traumatic, and not-always theologically driven ways. Such “rage[s] against the dead” sought to erase a deep and affective form of historical memory. Post-Reformation England used a wide range of affective media and technologies in its efforts to understand the gaps that had opened up in the social and affective landscape. Early modern amphitheater drama, a melding of available media, was one of the more telling responses. It was a key component in the period’s “equipment for living,” in Kenneth Burke’s phrase—providing a public place where audiences could experience, investigate, dig into, or salve the cognitive and affective conditions of their own possibility.

Keywords:   dead, social memory, social imaginary, emblem, Raymond Williams, Kenneth Burke, social landscape, emotional landscape

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