In late medieval and early modern Europe, definitions of blood in medical writing were slippery and changeable: blood was at once the red fluid in human veins, a humor, a substance governing crucial Galenic models of bodily change, a waste product, a cause of corruption, a source of life, a medical cure, a serum appearing under the guise of all other bodily secretions, and—after William Harvey's discovery of its circulation—the cause of one of the greatest medical controversies of the premodern period. Figurative uses of "blood" are even more difficult to pin down. The term appeared in almost every sphere of life and thought, running through political, theological, and familial discourses. Blood Matters explores blood as a distinct category of inquiry and draws together scholars who might not otherwise be in conversation. Theatrical and medical practice are found to converge in their approaches to the regulation of blood as a source of identity and truth; medieval civic life intersects with seventeenth-century science and philosophy; the concepts of class, race, gender, and sexuality find in the language of blood as many mechanisms for differentiation as for homogeneity; and fields as disparate as pedagogical theory, alchemy, phlebotomy, wet-nursing, and wine production emerge as historically and intellectually analogous. The volume's essays are organized within categories derived from medieval and early modern understanding of blood behaviors—Circulation, Wounds, Corruption, Proof, and Signs and Substances—thereby providing the terms through which interdisciplinary and cross-period conversations can take place. Contributors: Helen Barr, Katharine Craik, Lesel Dawson, Eleanor Decamp, Frances E. Dolan, Elisabeth Dutton, Margaret Healy, Dolly Jørgensen, Helen King, Bonnie Lander Johnson, Hester Lees-Jeffries, Joe Moshenska, Tara Nummedal, Patricia Parker, Ben Parsons, Heather Webb, Gabriella Zuccolin.
—Bonnie Lander Johnson and Eleanor Decamp
Chapter 1. Was the Heart "Dethroned"?: Harvey's Discoveries and the Politics of Blood, Heart, and Circulation
Chapter 2. "The Lake of my Heart": Blood, Containment, and the Boundaries of the Person in the Writing of Dante and Catherine of Siena
Chapter 3. Sorting Pistol's Blood: Social Class and the Circulation of Character in Shakespeare's 2 Henry IV and Henry V
Chapter 4. Mantled in Blood: Shakespeare's Bloodstains and Early Modern Textile Culture
Chapter 5. Rethinking Nosebleeds: Gendering Spontaneous Bleedings in Medieval and Early Modern Medicine
—Gabriella Zuccolin and Helen King
Chapter 6. Screaming Bleeding Trees: Textual Wounding and the Epic Tradition
Chapter 7. Corruption, Generation, and the Problem of Menstrua in Early Modern Alchemy
Chapter 8. Bloody Students: Youth, Corruption, and Discipline in the Medieval Classroom
Chapter 9. Blood, Milk, Poison: Romeo and Juliet's Tragedy of "Green" Desire and Corrupted Blood
—Bonnie Lander Johnson
Chapter 10. "In Every Wound there is a Bloody Tongue": Cruentation in Early Modern Literature and Psychology
Chapter 11. "In such abundance … that it fill a Bason": Early Modern Bleeding Bowls
Chapter 12. Macbeth and the Croxton Play of the Sacrament: Blood and Belief in Early English Stagecraft
Chapter 13. Simular Proof, Tragicomic Turns, and Cymbeline's Bloody Cloth
V. SIGNS AND SUBSTANCE
Chapter 14. Blood of the Grape
—Frances E. Dolan
Chapter 15. Blood on the Butcher's Knife: Images of Pig Slaughter in Late Medieval Illustrated Calendars
Chapter 16. Queer Blood
List of Contributors
Bonnie Lander Johnson is Fellow, Lecturer, and Director of Studies at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge and author of Chastity in Early Stuart Literature and Culture. Eleanor Decamp is author of Civic and Medical Worlds: Performing Barbery and Surgery.
"The ambitious edited collection Blood Matters takes on a complicated task:mapping the conceptual terrain of blood (both as material and metaphor) in late medieval and early modern Europe . . . Reading the essays together offers an illuminating glimpse into the densely interlocking regimes of blood in medieval and early modern European culture."
"A powerful and coherent collection of essays that illuminates the various facets of a fascinating subject. It greatly enriches our sense of the meanings of blood and will have a major impact in medieval and Renaissance studies."
~Michael Schoenfeldt, University of Michigan