Introduction

Kristine Steenbergh, Katherine Ibbett

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Abstract

In the early modern period, the feeling and practice of compassion were recalibrated in a pressure cooker of social, religious and political changes. The rich philosophical heritage of classical ideas about the role of pity in virtuous citizenship and prudent statesmanship and the embodied practices of late-medieval affective meditation on compassion with the suffering of Christ jostled against new contexts of civil war, colonisation and capitalism. Notions of neighbourliness, charity and compassion became elastic as communities changed shape. Much of today’s critical impatience with compassion is predicated on its failure to follow through on its rhetoric, its incapacity to practice as it preaches. Yet early modern compassion was not merely an erudite textual tradition: it was also a set of practices that took on differing importance in different social and religious groups. These practices were impacted by and in turn shaped textual representations of compassion. The chapters in this volume analyse a broad range of sources to access the interplay between texts and practice in the early modern period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCompassion in Early Modern Literature and Culture
Subtitle of host publicationFeeling and Practice
EditorsKristine Steenbergh, Katherine Ibbett
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages1-22
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781108862172, 9781108856508
ISBN (Print)9781108495394
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • compassion
  • early moder literature
  • early modern culture
  • history of emotions

VU Research Profile

  • Connected World

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