How Gardens Feel: The Natural History of Sensation in Spenser and Milton

Michael Schoenfeldt, University of Michigan

Lecture organized by ACCESS, the Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotions and Sensory Studies (CLUE+).

Wednesday 18 April 2018
3.30 -5.00pm, drinks afterwards
Location: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Main Building
Room: 13A33

In this talk, Michael Schoenfeldt explores the relation between the environment and the sensation of pleasure in Spenser and Milton – the two greatest epic poets of early modern England.

Spenser and Milton are fascinating because they repeatedly focus on the scrupulous calibration of physical sensation with the environmental network. Schoenfeldt’s focus is on pleasure, and, to a lesser degree, pain – sensations that are invariably the product of particular kinds of osmotic interaction between the individual and the environment.

Schoenfeldt argues that Spenser is primarily concerned with how environments can pollute individuals. Milton by contrast, is more concerned with how individuals pollute environments. His great epic depicts, among many other things, the first example of human-induced climate change.

 

Michael Schoenfeldt is John R. Knott, Jr. Collegiate Professor of English at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England: Physiology and Inwardness in Spenser, Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton (1999) and The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare’s Poetry (2010). He is currently researching a book-length study of pain and pleasure in early modern England.

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