Benjamin Parris

Oct 28, 2022

Vital Strife

Sleep, Insomnia, and the Early Modern Ethics of Care

Cornell University Press 2022

In an exciting new book titled Vital Strife: Sleep, Insomnia, and the Early Modern Ethics of Care (Cornell UP, 2022), Benjamin Parris shows how early modern writing about care and sleep were deeply indebted with the Stoic principle of oikeiosis. While sleep could imperil the Christian soul, insomnia too could have deleterious effects on both communal and individual life. In Parris’s analysis, early modern writings by William Shakespeare, Jasper Heywood, John Milton, and Margaret Cavendish on the conjunction of sleep and care—and the Stoic philosophy that influenced those writers—opened onto startling revelations about both our obligation to the self and to an ethical engagement with society at large.

Parris is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, and his work has appeared in Shakespeare Studies, Modern Philology, and SEL: Studies in English Literature.

John Yargo is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Boston College. He holds a PhD in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, specializing in the environmental humanities and early modern culture. His peer-reviewed articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Culture Studies, Early Theatre, Studies in Philology, and Shakespeare Studies.

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John Yargo

John Yargo holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His specializations are early modern literature, the environmental humanities, and critical race studies. His dissertation explores early modern representations of environmental catastrophe, including The Tempest, Oroonoko, and the poetry of Milton. He has published in Studies in Philology, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, and Shakespeare Studies.

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