Early Modern Trauma


Early Modern Trauma

Europe and the Atlantic World

Edited by Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards

Early Modern Cultural Studies Series

414 pages
7 illustrations, index


August 2021


$75.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2021


$75.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2021


$75.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The term trauma refers to a wound or rupture that disorients, causing suffering and fear. Trauma theory has been heavily shaped by responses to modern catastrophes, and as such trauma is often seen as inherently linked to modernity. Yet psychological and cultural trauma as a result of distressing or disturbing experiences is a human phenomenon that has been recorded across time and cultures.

The long seventeenth century (1598–1715) has been described as a period of almost continuous warfare, and the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries saw the development of modern slavery, colonialism, and nationalism, and witnessed plagues, floods, and significant sociopolitical, economic, and religious transformation. In Early Modern Trauma editors Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards present a variety of ways early modern contemporaries understood and narrated their experiences. Studying accounts left by those who experienced extreme events increases our understanding of the contexts in which traumatic experiences have been constructed and interpreted over time and broadens our understanding of trauma theory beyond the contemporary Euro-American context while giving invaluable insights into some of the most pressing issues of today.


Author Bio

Erin Peters is an associate professor in early modern history at the University of Gloucestershire. She is the author of Commemoration and Oblivion in Royalist Print Culture, 1658–1667. Cynthia Richards is a professor of English at Wittenberg University. She is the coeditor, with Mary Ann O’Donnell, of Approaches to Teaching Behn’s “Oroonoko” and editor of The Wrongs of Woman; or Maria and Memoirs of the Author of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.”



“This collection provides a breathtaking synthesis of over two decades of important work on trauma, literature, and history. It is a collection that offers a new way forward as much as it offers a clear look backward at the key texts and applications that have shaped and will continue to shape trauma studies for years to come.”—Thomas P. Anderson, author of Performing Early Modern Trauma from Shakespeare to Milton

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Reading Historical Trauma: Moving Backward to Move Forward
Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards
Part 1. Reframing Modern Trauma
1. Devastated Nature: The Emotions of Natural World Catastrophe in Sixteenth-Century France
Susan Broomhall
2. Historicizing Rape Trauma: Identification with the Aggressor in Early Modern Humoralism and The Rape of Lucrece (1594)
Zackariah Long
3. The Trauma of Self: Hannah Allen and Seventeenth-Century Women’s Spiritual Writing
Amelia Zurcher
4. Early Modern Ciphering and the Expression of Trauma
Katherine Ellison
5. Soliciting Sympathy: The Search for Psychological Trauma in Petitions from Seventeenth-Century Maimed Soldiers
Ismini Pells
6. Hans Sloane and the Melancholy Slave
Peter Walmsley
7. Representations of Loss and Recovery in Unca Eliza Winkfield’s The Female American
Melissa Antonucci
Part 2. Recognizing Early Modern Trauma
8. Stories of Trauma in Early Modern Ireland
Eamon Darcy
9. Trauma, Psychological Coercion, and Slaves Who Love Their Masters: The Case of William Okeley
Adam R. Beach
10. Imperfect Enjoyments and Female Disappointments: Understanding Trauma in Aphra Behn’s “The Disappointment” and Oroonoko
Cynthia Richards
11. Cultural Trauma, Exile, and the Birth of Jacobitism
Erin Peters
12. Tragic Trauma?: Remorse, Repetition, and the Orestes Myth
Joseph Harris
13. Trauma, Ritual, and the Temporality of War in George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer
Tamar LeRoy
14. For Those Who Did Not See It: Transgenerational Trauma and Postmemory in Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year
Andreas K. E. Mueller
Afterword: Early Modern Trauma and the Generation of Satire
Melinda Rabb

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