Although emotion was central to the delivery of the early modern sermon, the conversion from performance to print makes this aspect inaccessible. To hypothesize how scholars might recover an affective archive, I read John Donne’s Deaths Duell (1631) alongside early modern medical texts and contemporary affective neuroscience. Making use of the concept of affect contagion, I argue that the delivery of Deaths Duell transmitted intensely negative emotions as well as their concomitant physiological markers, and that chemical signals (i.e., pheromones) were the vehicles through which the transmission occurred. Consequently, this essay suggests innovative modes for interpreting the early modern sermon genre, for envisioning the complex effects generated by a sermon’s delivery, and for theorizing the affective interplay among preacher, audience, and the environment they create.


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pp. 111-130
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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