Dispassion in Early Modern English Literary Culture

Michal Zechariah (Minerva Fellow)

This project examines dispassion in early modern English literature through the lens of rhetorical theory and practice. Participating in a scholarly conversation about the relation between rhetoric and the passions in the English Renaissance, it discusses how for early modern authors, dispassion brought into question rhetorical methods and premises and threatened conventions of communication. From the point of view of rhetoric, dispassion could indicate a failure to communicate, an exclusion from discourse, the erosion of shared emotion scripts, and more. This interpersonal aspect of early modern dispassion, I suggest, positions it as not only a personal disposition, but a sociopolitical phenomenon.

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