Seventeenth-century English sermons wrestle frequently with the problem of grief for the dead, distinguishing moderate from excessive mourning. Funeral sermons – themselves a rather vexed genre that had found full acceptance only in the late sixteenth century– often remind attendees that grief, like funerals, is for the living, and can be more profitably redirected towards grieving one’s own sin. This paper focuses on one sermon collection, Threnoikos: The House of Mourning (1640), which brings together funeral sermons by various preachers, though few of them name for whom they were preached. These sermons illustrate how grief is tied to memory, and as I show, Threnoikos in particular helps us see how printed funeral sermons embody the idea of memento mori, reminding the living that they too will die.

Jennifer Clement is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and in the Western Civilisation program, where she teaches Shakespeare and other topics. She is the author of Reading Humility in Early Modern England (Ashgate, 2015) and of numerous other articles on religion and literature, Shakespeare and adaptation, and early modern women’s writing. She is currently working on a book manuscript about early modern Protestant sermons and emotions for Oxford University Press’s series on the History of Emotions.

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