Early Modern Trauma


Early Modern Trauma

Europe and the Atlantic World

Edited by Erin Peters and Cynthia Richards

Early Modern Cultural Studies Series

480 pages
7 figures, index


August 2021


$75.00 Pre-order

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

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