English professor Allison Hobgood releases second book in two years

by University Communications,

After more than 10 years of researching and writing, English professor Allison Hobgood recently released her book, “Passionate Playgoing in Early Modern England.”

The academic monograph was published in the United Kingdom in January and will be released in the United States in April. Last spring, she also published “Recovering Disability in Early Modern England.”

Hobgood will talk about her work and sign copies of her books April 2 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Hatfield Room of the Hatfield Library.

Although she’s tired from such a busy year, Hobgood says she’s excited for what will come next.

“It feels good to take a deep breath,” she says. “I feel wonderfully disoriented.”

Playgoing in Early Modern England

Hobgood began working on “Passionate Playgoing in Early Modern England” in 2001 for her dissertation at Emory University. The book tells a history never before explored about the emotional experience of a theatergoer in Renaissance England (1485-early 17th century).

Because many people at the time were illiterate, Hobgood says there’s very little documentation of playgoers’ experiences.

“We know a lot about the cultural history of the period, but what happens when we look at how people feel when they see things on stage?” Hobgood asked herself.

“I want to change the mode of thinking about the way that audience and theatre reacted in the Renaissance playhouses. Most think of it as unilateral influence on audience, but cultural experience of emotion was very multi-dimensional.”

Hobgood began her research by searching through the records she had, such as diary entries, and then began to look at different medical and philosophical texts produced in the period to understand what was happening to the body of playgoers.

She hopes the book will make people think about the play-going experience as something more than just what the audience members wore and how much they spent on tickets, but instead, consider the emotional experiences they had and how that affected the plays of that time.

She also hopes people will start to think about this idea in the context of their lives today.

“I would love if people thought about the experience of being at a football game, movie, religious gathering, or other spaces that are highly affective and emotional,” Hobgood says.

Disabled bodies, minds in Renaissance text

Hobgood’s other recently published book, “Recovering Disability in Early Modern England,” is a collection of essays that explores various kinds of literary representations of disabled bodies and minds. It questions how the literary representations serve as signature features in English Renaissance text.

Hobgood co-edited the collection with David Houston Wood, an English professor from Northern Michigan University.

As an activist for people with disabilities, Hobgood was glad she was able to do this project.

“The book was a way to bring activism to scholarship in my own field,” she says. “Our world is set up, ideologically and in terms of space, in a really oppressive way that makes it very difficult for people in the disabled community to participate in equitable ways.”

• Article by Natalie Pate ’15, politics and French/Francophone studies major