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      Drinking Sorrow and Bathing in Bliss: Liquid Emotions in Chaucer

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      Open Library of Humanities

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          Abstract

          In medieval thought, emotions, as embodied and physiological processes, are often characterised as liquid. They are adjoined to the humours and occasion movements of the body’s heat and vital spirit. Chaucer uses this medical discourse and emotion scholars have noted how emotions are often pathologised and embodied in his work. But the liquidity of emotions in Chaucer goes beyond humours and tears; it is as much literal as it is metaphorical, and it also contains joy—an emotion too often overlooked in the field. This paper explores the different uses of liquidity to represent emotions in Chaucer’s writing, and especially in Troilus and Criseyde. The exploration uncovers the liquid imagery of emotions, from tears as ink to drinking sorrow and baths of bliss; and it shows how those different figurations are contingent on genre and gender. It also brings forward the interrelation of tears and words of complaint—the text of love poetry becoming itself material and liquid affect—and the subsequent struggle to find space for joy in a poem avowedly written in tears. Indeed, this study shows how employing a discourse of water in the writing of emotions creates separate discursive streams for sorrow and for joy—the waters of sorrow being somatic and fluid, those of joy external and still.

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          Most cited references21

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          Langland’s Tears: Poetry, Emotion, and Mouvance

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            Introduction: Emotional Histories — Beyond the Personalization of the Past and the Abstraction of Affect Theory

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              Blood and Tears as Ink:

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                07 June 2018
                2018
                : 4
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Lincoln College, Oxford University, GB
                Article
                10.16995/olh.227
                b9c3d637-f6dc-448d-a98d-e2a39d0331da
                Copyright: © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                Self URI (journal-page): https://olh.openlibhums.org/
                Categories
                New approaches to medieval water studies

                Literary studies,Religious studies & Theology,Arts,Social & Behavioral Sciences,History,Philosophy

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