Early Modern Writing and the Privatization of Experience

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2015-04-09
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
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Reading a wide range of early modern authors and exploring their cultural-historical, philosophical and scientific contexts, Early Modern Writing and the Privatization of Experience examines the shift in focus from reliance on shared experience to placing of trust in individualized experience which occurs in the writing and culture of the period. Nick Davis contends that much of the era's literary production participates significantly in this broad cultural movement.

Covering key writers of the period including Shakespeare, Donne, Chaucer, Spenser, Langland, Hobbes and Bunyan, Davis begins with an overview of the medieval-early modern privatizing cultural transition. He then goes on to offer an analysis of King Lear, Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, The Winter's Tale, and the first three books of The Fairie Queene, among other texts, considering their treatment of the relation between individual life and the life attributed to the cosmos, the idea of symbolic narrative positing a collective human subject, and the forming of pragmatic relations between individual and group.

Author Biography

Nick Davis is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool, UK. His previous publications include Stories of Chaos: Reason and Its Displacement in Early Modern English Narrative (1999).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Instruments of Change

1. The Private and the Communal – Degrees of Separation

Part A
Introduction: Cosmomorphic Fracture: 'For every man alone thinks that he hath got / To be a Phoenix'
2. 'That Dark Sun': Donne and Melancholic Individuality
3. King Lear and the Death of the World

Part B

Introduction: Collective Representations, Symbolic Narratives
4 Readerly Isolation and Subjective Freedom in The Faerie Queene
5 Hobbes and Bunyan: The Subsuming Individual Vision

Part C

Introduction: Refiguring Community, Thinking through Festivity
6 Taking Sights in Richard II – 1 Henry IV
7 A Reconstitution of Community: 'Nature's' Dismantling and Replacement in The Winter's Tale


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