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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

My essay explores the intersections of early modern air, bodily spirits, and the passions in Shakespeare’s plays. Bodily spirits were understood as subtle bodies that yearned to be reunited with the air, an account that simultaneously linked the inside of the body with the ambient world and the passions with the ethereal element. The cognate nature of air and spirits offers insight into porous borders of subjectivity, the passions, imagination, consciousness, and human relationship. Taking Cymbeline and The Tempest as my central texts, I examine this relationship through the homonymic heir-air that joins reproduction, inheritance, and the ethereal in the plays. Through my investigation of language as air-borne, the nature of augury and dreams, and the emotionally inflected properties of embodied and disembodied winds and spirits, I suggest that the world’s animism is transposed in complex ways into a new understanding of the human psyche.

Keywords: spirits, air, passions, subjectivity, dreams, early modern psychology, The Tempest, Cymbeline

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