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Feeling PleasuresThe Sense of Touch in Renaissance England$
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Joe Moshenska

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198712947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712947.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 November 2021

‘A Sensible Touching, Feeling and Groping’

‘A Sensible Touching, Feeling and Groping’

Metaphor and Sensory Experience in the English Reformation

(p.15) 1 ‘A Sensible Touching, Feeling and Groping’
Feeling Pleasures

Joe Moshenska

Oxford University Press

The first section considers the attack on the pious handling of relics in the Reformation, via the translation into English of Erasmus’s satirical colloquy on pilgrimage, which construes relics as objects too disgusting to touch. It is then argued that this apparent rejection of tactile holiness is less unequivocal than it seems. Erasmus’s own writings leave room for the embracing of the divine as an expression of a pious life, while English reformers often treated printed bibles much like relics. This ambivalence also characterizes discussions of the Eucharist, in which English reformers tended to elide the relationship, explored by medieval writers such as Reginald Pecock, between the literal and metaphorical touching of Christ. This was eminently true of Thomas Cranmer, whose careful inclusion of the seemingly innocuous phrase ‘as it were’ allowed him simultaneously to reject and retain devotional touch.

Keywords:   relics, Erasmus, disgust, ordinariness, Eucharist, Cranmer

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