Renaissance writers habitually drew upon the idioms and images of the schoolroom in their depictions of emotional experience. Memorable instances of this tendency include the representation of love as a schoolroom exercise conducted under the disciplinary gaze of the mistress, melancholy as a process of gradual decline like the declension of the noun, and courtship as a practice in which the participants are arranged like the parts of speech in a sentence. The Grammar Rules of Affection explores this synthesis of the affective and the pedagogical in Renaissance literature, analysing examples from major texts by Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson.
Drawing on philosophical approaches to emotion, theories of social practice, and the history of education, this book argues that emotions appear in Renaissance literature as conventional, rule-guided practices rather than internal states. This claim represents a novel intervention in the historical study of emotion, departing from the standard approaches to emotions as either corporeal phenomena or mental states. Combining linguistic philosophy and theory of emotion, The Grammar Rules of Affection works to overcome this dualistic crux by locating emotion in the expressions and practices of everyday life.