Sinister Aesthetics

The Appeal of Evil in Early Modern English Literature

  • Joel Elliot Slotkin

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Joel Elliot Slotkin
    Pages 79-124
  3. Joel Elliot Slotkin
    Pages 173-215
  4. Joel Elliot Slotkin
    Pages 255-265
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 267-289

About this book


This engrossing volume studies the poetics of evil in early modern English culture, reconciling the Renaissance belief that literature should uphold morality with the compelling and attractive representations of evil throughout the period’s literature. The chapters explore a variety of texts, including Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s Richard III, broadside ballads, and sermons, culminating in a new reading of Paradise Lost and a novel understanding of the dynamic interaction between aesthetics and theology in shaping seventeenth century Protestant piety. Through these discussions, the book introduces the concept of “sinister aesthetics”: artistic conventions that can make representations of the villainous, monstrous, or hellish pleasurable.


Early Modern Literature Evil Shakespeare Renaissance Milton Paradise Lost

Authors and affiliations

  • Joel Elliot Slotkin
    • 1
  1. 1.English Department Towson UniversityBaltimoreUSA

Bibliographic information