Contagious Pity: Cultural Difference and the Language of Contagion in Titus Andronicus

  • Jennifer FeatherEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus considers political boundaries and personal sovereignty in terms of bodily integrity and health. This essay looks beyond the language of infectious disease most familiar to modern readers and highlights a premodern discourse of illness that presumes likeness or sympathy between infecting agent and infected body. Turning to this premodern discourse illuminates the language of contagion in Titus, a play that uses comparatively little language of disease. Understanding how this premodern language of contagion operates in Titus Andronicus, this essay resituates the play in its multicultural context, demonstrating how contagion might serve not simply as a source of anxiety but as a metaphor for the fraught operation of pity.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North Carolina GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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