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Without Apparent Occasion: Melancholy and the Problem of Motive in Baroque England

Barr, Timothy (2019) Without Apparent Occasion: Melancholy and the Problem of Motive in Baroque England. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Melancholy primarily presented itself to the English seventeenth century as a problem
concerning the causes of passions that were, in the words of Robert Burton, “without any apparant
occasion.” The configuration of this problem varied as it moved through a range of discourses. In
this dissertation, I attend most closely to those configurations in medicine, dialectic, theater, and
an emergent civil science. The desire to discover the possible causes of melancholic passions led
medical texts to reproduce nearly the whole range of causality. The baroque medical texts, then,
produced a “topics,” a collection of potential arguments, of the causes of melancholy.
Melancholics also developed their own set of topical practices, adopting the methods of humanist
dialectic for articulating their experience. In the theater, the problem of the melancholic's passion
served as a form of encounter between a civil logic that sought to determine its causes and the
melancholic articulation of the situation through their own passion. Finally, I argue that the modern
architecture of the state as envisioned in Hobbes' Leviathan is premised upon the power to
eliminate collective melancholy, that is, the arousal of “causeless fears” while instituting a power
that keeps the imagination of the people in fear of the sovereign's punishments. I show that this
vision of the state required a repression of the image of the melancholy tyrant.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Barr, Timothytimothybarr@pitt.edutjb77
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMarshall, David L.dlm91@pitt.edudlm91
Committee MemberKuchinskaya,
Committee MemberOlson,
Committee MemberGowland,
Date: 26 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 April 2019
Approval Date: 26 September 2019
Submission Date: 8 August 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 371
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: melancholy Baroque history of medicine history of rhetoric early modern rhetoric history of emotions Hobbes Burton Shakespeare
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2019 20:55
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2019 20:55


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