Engaging the Passions in John Donne's Sermons

Daniel Derrin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The growing research on the history of emotions has yet to take full account of the extent to which the whole range of human passions and their functions, as understood within the highly influential Thomist model, were useful for a variety of rhetorical purposes in early modern literary cultures. This article explores John Donne's applications of the traditional rhetorical teachings on amplification and its related manoeuvres to some of his specific sermon contexts. This is done in order to show how Donne approaches his attempt to use various passions for his rhetorical purposes. The important dynamic existing between the precise rhetorical construction of an object's value and the precise kind of passionate feeling one should have towards it will be considered. I shall argue that Donne attempts to generate, transmute, and transfer the emotional responses of his audience towards his sermons' particular subjects by employing the amplificatory techniques that are most useful for getting at the contents of memory directly as well as those that carefully shape the cognitive reconstruction of such contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-468
Number of pages17
JournalEnglish Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Engaging the Passions in John Donne's Sermons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this