Heroic Passions 27-29 March 2014

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Epistémè @RSA 2014, New York
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Heroism was defined through the prism of classical antiquity in the early modern period. Passions, for that matter, were an inherent part of a heroic nature, from Achilles’ “baneful wrath” to “choler” envisaged by Thucydides in the Peloponnesian Wars as one of the most central motivations of heroic action. For Montaigne, choler, although it was “ever an imperfection”, was “more excusable in a military man”. On the early modern stage, there were numerous angry heroes, such as Byron in Chapman’s Conspiracy and Tragedy, who “[f]lowes with adust, and melancholy choler”, or Coriolanus who is ready to fight “with the spleen / Of all the under-fiends”. However, anger, choler, and the passions in general are largely condemned in most treatises of passions, in particular because of the influence of Stoic philosophy (such as Seneca’s De ira) or the Aristotelian middle position: “of all the Passions of man, there is not any one more pernitious, nor more dreadfull then Choler, which alters the gracefull countenance and the whole constitution of man,” writes Nicolas Coeffeteau (Table of humane passions, Grimeston’s 1621 translation). So while the passions are condemned for moral reasons, they nevertheless remain part of the representation of heroism, especially on the early modern stage. This session will explore some aspects of this ambivalent, paradoxical relationship between heroism and the passions in early modern period. Particularly welcome are submissions on drama, iconography or moral literature.
Proposals for this session should be submitted to Christine Sukic, University of Reims (christine.sukic@univ-reims.fr) by 1 June 2013. Each proposed paper must include: paper title; abstract (150 words maximum); and a brief C.V. (300 words maximum).
This panel is sponsored by Epistémè, an affiliate research centre of the Sorbonne Nouvelle University and associate organization of the RSA.

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