The Grammar Rules of Affection: Passion and Pedagogy in Sidney, Shakespeare, and Jonson
Published: April 2021© 2021
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 192 Pages
Dimensions: 6.25 x 9.25
192 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 0.70 in
Renaissance writers habitually drew upon the idioms and images of the schoolroom in their depictions of emotional experience. Memorable instances of this tendency include the representation of love as a schoolroom exercise conducted under the disciplinary gaze of the mistress, melancholy as a process of gradual decline like the declension of the noun, and courtship as a practice in which the participants are arranged like the parts of speech in a sentence. The Grammar Rules of Affection explores this synthesis of the affective and the pedagogical in Renaissance literature, analysing examples from major texts by Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson.
Drawing on philosophical approaches to emotion, theories of social practice, and the history of education, this book argues that emotions appear in Renaissance literature as conventional, rule-guided practices rather than internal states. This claim represents a novel intervention in the historical study of emotion, departing from the standard approaches to emotions as either corporeal phenomena or mental states. Combining linguistic philosophy and theory of emotion, The Grammar Rules of Affection works to overcome this dualistic crux by locating emotion in the expressions and practices of everyday life.
1. “Precept and Practice”: Theories of Grammar from the Medieval to the Early Modern Period
2. “Heart-Ravishing Knowledge”: Love and Learning in Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella
3. The Ablative Heart: Love as Rule-Guided Action in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost
4. “Shapes of Grief”: The Grammatical and the Ineffable in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
5. “Drunken Custom”: Rules, Embodiment, and Exemplarity in Jonson’s Humors Plays
"The Grammar Rules of Affection is a thrilling contribution to the thriving field of early modern affect studies. In a series of theoretically alert readings, Ross Knecht reveals emotion and grammar as twinned social practices which together shape our experience of the world. Early modern poetry and drama emerge as replete with the echoes of childhood learning, and as radiantly expressive of life. An unusually sensitive and ingenious reader, Knecht uncovers something surprising wherever he looks."Katharine Craik, Research Lead and Reader in Early Modern Literature, Oxford Brookes University
"The Grammar Rules of Affection examines the humanist tradition in grammar in order to uncover its consequences for and influence on the writing of literature. More than this, it uncovers the broader cultural concept of ‘grammar’ in the late work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, as a way of reading literature as a form of code for living. Ross Knecht performs both functions with style and wit."Brian Cummings, Professor of English and Related Literature, University of York