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Jennifer Clement (2014-2016)
The University of Queensland
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Passions and Preaching: The Early Modern English Sermon, 1603-1660

Sermons are texts written to influence events through people’s emotions, as well as through their intellects and  understanding this duality is crucial for comprehending the intentions and approaches of early modern sermons as rhetorical documents. The project undertakes an extensive survey of the role played by the emotions in the construction and delivery of early modern sermons emphasizing the impact of the use of emotion to sway audiences towards religious and moral ends, as well as political ones.

Passions and Preaching: The Early Modern English Sermon, 1603-1660


Hugh Latimer Preaching to Edward VI.1563 From John Foxe's Acts and Monuments, artist unknown. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The sermon was easily the most popular form of printed and performed literary culture in early modern England. This project draws on Mary Morrissey’s insight that “Sermons are rhetorical works – text [sic] written to influence events,” but Jennifer Clement would amplify this statement to say, more precisely, that sermons are texts written to influence events through people’s emotions, as well as through their intellects. Understanding this duality is crucial for comprehending the intentions and approaches of early modern sermons as rhetorical documents. The role of the passions in the early modern sermon has not gone unnoticed by any means. Yet the dominant trend in sermon studies has been towards emphasizing their political valences. While this trend has produced much valuable work upon which this project builds, this project shifts focus towards the larger use of emotions in early modern sermons for a wider range of purposes.

The questions animating this research include: How can an emphasis on the passions help us understand the rhetorical strategies of early modern sermons? How do sermons seek to persuade through emotion, and for what purposes? How do sermons represent the relationship of will and understanding to emotion? And how is emotion articulated with regard to gender and class in these sermons? By answering these questions, this work will help fill a gap in large-scale studies of the use of emotions in early modern sermons.   

 

Selected Publications

Clement, J. ‘He Being Dead, Yet Speaketh: The Preacher's Voice in Early Seventeenth‐Century Posthumous Sermon Collections’. Renaissance Studies 32.5 (2018): 738–54.

Clement, J. ‘Dearly Beloved: Love, Rhetoric and the Seventeenth-Century English Sermon’. English Studies 97.7 (2016): 725‒45.

Selected Presentations

Clement, J. ‘Love and Metaphor in Richard Sibbes’ Bowels Opened (1639)', 11th Biennial Conference of the Australian & New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies ‘Mobility and Exchange’, Wellington, NZ, 7‒10 February 2017.

Clement, J. ‘Moving Metaphors and Stirring Similitudes: The Pedagogical Uses of Metaphor in the English Sermon’, Sixteenth-Century Society conference, Bruges, 18–20 August 2016.

Clement, J. ‘Teaching the Passions in the Seventeenth-Century English Sermon’, ‘Passions for Learning in Religious Perspective: Jerome to the Jesuits’: CHE symposium, The University of Western Australia, 5–6 November 2015.

Clement, J. ‘Sermon Theory: The Art of Preaching Emotion’, ‘Managing Senses, Bodies and Emotions in Early Modern English Religious and Medical Texts’ CHE panel, ANZAMEMS 10th Biennial International Conference, The University of Queensland, 14–18 July 2015.