Centre for Studies in Literature

Amity in Early Modern Literature and Culture

In recent years, discussions about early modern human relationships have been dominated by the topic of sexuality and eroticism, with the result that non-erotic relationships have been reductively misunderstood within this theoretical approach. This has meant that the complexity, diversity and importance of non-erotic relationships have not been given due scholarly attention; and this neglect has limited our understanding of the connection between such relationships and other important cultural phenomena in this period such as selfhood, individuality and freedom, virtue, formality, intimacy and privacy. The term 'amity' provides a more specifically Renaissance definition of affectionate relationships, incorporating a wider range of types of relationship than just friendship, including loving-friendship, benevolence, affection and relationships connected by the soul. This will become a means of examining Early Modern, intimate, non-sexual relationships in a more sophisticated way. To that end, the symposium organisers would welcome papers that include, but are not limited to, the following themes: the literary representations of amity, the relationship between amity and self-fashioning, amity within literary communities or coteries, the relationship between amity and reading, and the influence of classical philosophy, renaissance humanism or Christian theology on the conceptualization of amity.

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