Esther Sin-Ching Yu
My field of study ranges across the poetry and prose of the early modern period through the eighteenth century, focusing particularly on the history of the emotions, popular politics, and traditions of religious dissent. An early publication dealt with John Milton’s formative influence on fundamental principles of literary criticism. A more recent article in Representations illuminates a neglected early modern conception of the “tender conscience,” from which I derive a new account of the English Civil War and Milton’s career as a whole. My current project, Experiencing the Novel: The Genre of Tender Conscience, builds on this work, arguing that a seismic shift in perceptions of sensitivity reshaped the political realm and gave to literary history the modern aesthetic form. I welcome the opportunity to think with Stanford students more broadly about literature’s relationship to emergent histories of philosophy, science, and lived experience.