Early modern discourses of lycanthropy and john webster's the duchess of malfi

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This article surveys discourses of lycanthropy in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. The lycanthropic imagination underwent significant changes in the seventeenth century. With the rise of a reformed belief that emphasized rationality, werewolf discourses were wedded with medical discourses, particularly those of humoralism, and scholars believed that lycanthropy was a result of excessive black bile, or melancholy. In The Duchess of Malfi Webster follows this discursive trajectory, but his understanding redirects its development; for this playwright, who had an extensive legal education, lycanthropy is an issue raising the question of sovereignty as a lacuna formed within the constitutional body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-107
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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