RSA 2012 Proposed Panel: Disgust in Early Modern English Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Natalie K. Eschenbaum / University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
contact email: 

This proposed RSA 2012 (Washington, DC) panel is interested in examining how and why early modern English individuals experienced repulsion, and how and why they expressed this repulsion in poetry, plays, and prose. The study of disgust in early modern literature is essential and overdue. As other disciplines (e.g. anthropology, psychology, history) have discovered, to be disgusted is to be human, and to be disgusted in certain ways, by certain things, is to identify with a particular culture. By studying the ways in which disgust manifests itself in early modern literature, we will better understand early modern culture. Also, it makes sense for literature to be examined through a lens of disgust because literature, traditionally, has been a sign of civilized and "tasteful" culture. What happens, then, when authors aim to disgust, rather than to delight? Especially during the period of literature when it is thought the idea of "aesthetic taste" came into existence? We invite papers that take disgust in literature seriously, and consider its purpose and effect. Please send 150-word (maximum) abstracts and 1-page CVs by June 10th to Natalie Eschenbaum at