Quaint knowledge: a 'body-mind' pattern across Shakespeare's career

Johnson, Laurie (2014) Quaint knowledge: a 'body-mind' pattern across Shakespeare's career. In: Conjunctions of mind, soul and body from Plato to the Enlightenment. Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind (15). Springer, Dordrecht, Germany, pp. 279-301. ISBN 978-94-017-9071-0


A pattern surrounds the use of the verb form 'acquaint' in the first half of Shakespeare's career which also reveals a gender bias: if the acquaintance is being made with a male or any neutral object, the surrounding language will give the audience or reader no grounds to presume that a sexual pun is in play (the word 'quaint' being a commonly used term in the early modern period for female genitals); if, on the other hand, the acquaintance is male to female or male to a gendered object, the surrounding language is routinely sexualised, suggesting that a double entendre is being activated in the verb. I focus as much on the surrounding language in these calculations as on the 'quaint' words because I contend that this is a viable method by which to determine potential nuances in the use of any word. Unlike Pauline Kiernan, whose work involves hunting down filthy puns in every use of dozens of words with potentially bawdy meanings, I acknowledge that Shakespeare's use of language was not routinely bawdy throughout, but the plays do give their audiences cues with which to listen for multiple meanings. In the second half of Shakespeare's career, the sexualised pun disappears altogether, suggesting that he was gravitating toward a use of the verb 'to acquaint' that was disconnected from any bodily connotation.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2015 04:34
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2017 00:24
Uncontrolled Keywords: Shakespeare; embodiment; cognition; bawdy; punning
Fields of Research : 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200205 Culture, Gender, Sexuality
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200503 British and Irish Literature
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200526 Stylistics and Textual Analysis
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9072-7
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/26642

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