The Imagination in Early Modern English Literature


In The Imagination in Early Modern English Literature, Deanna Smid presents a literary, historical account of imagination in early modern English literature, paying special attention to its effects on the body, to its influence on women, to its restraint by reason, and to its ability to create novelty. An early modern definition of imagination emerges in the work of Robert Burton, Francis Bacon, Edward Reynolds, and Margaret Cavendish. Smid explores a variety of literary texts, from Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveler to Francis Quarles’s Emblems, to demonstrate the literary consequences of the early modern imagination. The Imagination in Early Modern English Literature insists that, if we are to call an early modern text “imaginative,” we must recognize the unique characteristics of early modern English imagination, in all its complexity.

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Biographical Note
Deanna Smid, Ph.D. (2010), McMaster University, is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Brandon University. She has recently published articles on emblems, imagination, and music in early modern English literature.

Review Quotes
“This book[…]provides a valuable reminder that ‘if we are to classify a text as imaginative then the first question should be, by which historical standard?’(185). This book is an excellent introduction to one particular historical standard.”
-Svenn-Arve Myklebost, Høgskulen i Volda, in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol.71, No. 1 (2019) pp.387-388
Table of contents
Acknowledgments Introduction 1 The Imagination Defined 2 The Imagination Embodied: Brain, Body, and Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller 3 The Imagination Gendered: Pregnancy and Creation in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale 4 The Imagination Restrained: Fantasy and Reality in Richard Brome’s The Antipodes 5 The Imagination Creative: Francis Quarles Pictures the World in Emblemes Conclusion: The Imagination…Historicized? Bibliography Index
All interested in the literary history of imagination and its effects on the body (women’s in particular) and its link to novelty in early modern English literature.
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