Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation & Rhetoric along with the PhD in Argumentation Studies at the University of Windsor invite you to a talk by
“Affable Cities: Urbanity and Eutrapelia”
Abstract: The King is sick, reason distrait, the passions “up in Armes”: there is trouble in Pathopolis. In the anonymous university play, Pathomachia, or, the Battell of Affections (acted c. 1616), the affections rise up against the city-state, since Love, King of Pathopolis, is “old, cold, and weake.” The play opens with a colloquy of vice: Pride inquires of Malice about the rebellion’s “Ring-leaders,” and soon suggests that, given the passions’ intentions to “reduce the Kingdome to a Senate, or popular State,” the vices should “renew the claime to [their] old Title of Affections.” Pathomachia presents a fragile, disarticulate soul, susceptible to overrule by its “inferiour” parts, those which drive conflict in the play: the passions rise against the King and Queen, Love and Hatred, the banditi (laughter, weeping, blushing, but also lust, curiosity, envy) fight both the affections and the crown, while the vices war against the active virtues assembled to defend the city. As the character Despair avers, “I am afraid these discords will overthrow the Soule.”
Oddly, the soul is saved by urbanity. In act two, scene two, Justice arrives with Urbanity to “solace” the feeble King. Urbanity insists that he is “fit onley to recreate men in their sicknesse,” and what follows is a spirited exchange between the King and his counselor focused on the broad relationship between wit, recreation, and health. Love, the King, opens with surprise: why is urbanity called vicious when it soothes as well as prevents distemper? Urbanity “maintaine[s] health too,” he claims, “by preventing Melancholy the Father of many Diseases, and Malecontentment the Mother of many Vices.” Yet perhaps urbanity is merely a quality of discourse, “whereas all Vertue is in the Mind.” Urbanity’s retort is telling: “pleasant speech cannot come but from the integritie of the minde, free from a scowlding conscience.” Along with several moral philosophical and rhetorical texts, this play is my way into an inquiry about the status of laughter, urbanity, affability, and their medical and rhetorical efficacy in late medieval and early modern thought: is what we would call ‘wit’ a form of therapy?
Friday, March 15, 2019
Chrysler Hall North, 1163
All are welcome