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The Aesthetics of Sin: Beauty and Depravity in Early Modern English Literature

Description: This dissertation argues that early modern writers such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, George Herbert, John Milton, and Andrew Marvell played a critical role in the transition from the Neoplatonic philosophy of beauty to Enlightenment aesthetics. I demonstrate how the Protestant Reformation, with its special emphasis on the depravity of human nature, prompted writers to critique models of aesthetic judgment and experience that depended on high faith in human goodness and rationality. These writers in turn used their literary works to popularize skepticism about the human mind's ability to perceive and appreciate beauty accurately. In doing so, early modern writers helped create an intellectual culture in which aesthetics would emerge as a distinct branch of philosophy.
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Date: December 2017
Creator: Jeffrey, Anthony Cole

Corporeal Judgment in Shakespeare's Plays

Description: In this dissertation, I examine the complex role that the body played in early modern constructions of judgment. Moving away from an overreliance on anti-theatrical texts as the authority on the body in Shakespeare's plays, my project intervenes in the field Shakespearean studies by widening the lens through which scholars view the body's role in the early modern theater. Through readings of four plays—Richard II, Hamlet, King Lear, and The Winter's Tale—I demonstrate that Shakespeare uses a wide range of ideas about the human body from religious, philosophical, medical, and cultural spheres of thought to challenge Puritan accusations that the public theater audience is incapable of rational judgment. The first chapter outlines the parameters of the project. In Chapter 2, I argue that Richard II draws parallels between the theatrical community and the community created through the sacramental experiences of baptism and communion to show that bodies play a crucial role in establishing common experience and providing an avenue for judgment. In Chapter 3, I argue that Shakespeare establishes correspondences between bodily and social collaboration to show how both are needed for the memory-making project of the theater. In the next chapter, I show how Shakespeare appropriates what early moderns perceived of as the natural vulnerability in English bodies to suggest the passionate responses associated with impressionability can actually be sources of productive judgment and self-edification. I argue the storm models this passionate judgment, providing a guide for audience behavior. In Chapter 5, I argue that the memories created by and within the women in The Winter's Tale evoke the tradition of housewifery and emphasize the female role in preservation. Female characters stand in for hidden female contributors to the theater and expose societal blindness to women's work. Through each of these chapters, I argue that Shakespeare's plays emphasize the ...
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Date: December 2017
Creator: Cephus, Heidi Nicole

"How Can We Know the Dancer from the Dance?": Cognitive Poetics and the Poetry of William Butler Yeats

Description: Cognitive poetics, the recently developed field of literary theory which utilizes principles from cognitive science and cognitive linguistics to examine literature, is applied in this study to an exploration of the poetry of William Butler Yeats. The theoretical foundation for this approach is embodiment theory, the concept from cognitive linguistics that language is an embodied phenomenon and that meaning and meaning construction are bodily processes grounded in our sensorimotor experiences. A systematic analysis including conceptual metaphors, image schemas, cognitive mappings, mental spaces, and cognitive grammar is applied here to selected poems of Yeats to discover how these models can inform our readings of these poems. Special attention is devoted to Yeats's interest in the mind's eye, his crafting of syntax in stanzaic development, his atemporalization through grammar, and the antinomies which converge in selected symbols from his poems.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Pagel, Amber Noelle

The Hybrid Hero in Early Modern English Literature: A Synthesis of Classical and Contemplative Heroism

Description: In his Book of the Courtier, Castiglione appeals to the Renaissance notion of self-fashioning, the idea that individuals could shape their identity rather than relying solely on the influence of external factors such as birth, social class, or fate. While other early modern authors explore the practice of self-fashioning—Niccolò Machiavelli, for example, surveys numerous princes identifying ways they have molded themselves—Castiglione emphasizes the necessity of modeling one's-self after a variety of sources, "[taking] various qualities now from one man and now from another." In this way, Castiglione advocates for a self-fashioning grounded in a discriminating kind of synthesis, the generation of a new ideal form through the selective combination of various source materials. While Castiglione focuses on the moves necessary for an individual to fashion himself through this act of discriminatory mimesis, his views can explain the ways authors of the period use source material in the process of textual production. As poets and playwrights fashioned their texts, they did so by consciously combining various source materials in order to create not individuals, as Castiglione suggests, but characters to represent new cultural ideals and values. Early moderns viewed the process of textual, as well as cultural production, as a kind of synthesis. Creation through textual fusion is particularly common in early modern accounts of the heroic, in which authors synthesize classical conceptions of the hero, which privilege the completion of martial feats, and Christian notions of the heroic, based on the contemplative nature of Christ. In this dissertation, I demonstrate how Thomas Kyd in The Spanish Tragedy (1585), Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene (1590), William Shakespeare in Titus Andronicus (1594), and John Milton in A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle (1632) syncretized classical and Christian notions of the heroic ideal in order to comment upon and shape political, social, ...
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Date: December 2017
Creator: Ponce, Timothy Matthew

Misrecognized and Misplaced: Race Performed in African American Literature, 1900-2015

Description: In my dissertation, I explore the ways in which racial identity is made complex through various onlookers' misrecognition of race. This issue is particularly important considering the current state of race relations in the United States, as my project offers a literary perspective and account of the way black authors have discussed racial identity formation from the turn of the century through the start of the twenty-first century. I highlight many variations of misrecognition and racial performance as a response to America's obsession with race.
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Date: May 2017
Creator: Taylor Juko, Tana

"Momentarium"

Description: "Momentarium" is a collection of poems that examines the instability of moments. By engaging with photography, the poems examine the strengths and flaws in representation. Qualified accuracy, in other words representations that exact no absolute authenticity, are paradoxically, most accurate. The original poems attempt to express both empathy an end to empathy, "I mean to give you what you cannot keep: a blue twice as true" and "I mean to give you what I cannot." The competing forces animate a contingent moment, before it becomes the past.
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Zuehlke, Karl

"Spectral Evidence"

Description: Spectral Evidence is a collection of poems that instigates a variety of omens, signs, divinations, and folktales to explore the concept of wish fulfillment. They arise in obedience to the compulsion to repeat past dramas brought on by failed love, the nostalgia of childhood, the damning legacy of language, the restriction of gender roles, death, etc. In order to quell these anxieties, the speaker looks beyond the self to both history and mythology, often invented mythologies as an attempt to control or recast the story-to give shape to the obscurities of life by creating a system of belief in order to forge meaning or confuse oneself into believing. In many ways this collection is all about belief or in wanting to believe. Through language, God is written into existence. God is the name of the blanket we put over the mystery to give it shape. Here, in this collection, God is an ant's egg. a cherry pit, a colony of white moths, a severed hand, the color red, a little bird. This collection explores these vehicles of meaning, the words that provide the shell of meaning, and the power of invention in hopes to gain control over what is deemed uncontrollable. While the speaker may be casting omens as "pre-ordained" entities outside of her power, it is her convictions in these signs that her own psychological and associative link between their meaning and their appearance that she conjures and creates because the existing systems of language, religion, and belief do not serve her. This creation is what is powerful. It is healing. It is birth. It is not involuntary wish fulfillment. It is the deliberative satisfaction of desire-on of the most insurrectionary acts a woman can execute.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Edwards, Trista Marie

"That Every Christian May Be Suited": Isaac Watts's Hymns in the Writings of Early Mohegan Writers, Samson Occom and Joseph Johnson

Description: This thesis considers how Samson Occom and Joseph Johnson, Mohegan writers in Early America, used the hymns of English hymnodist, Isaac Watts. Each chapter traces how either Samson Occom or Joseph Johnson's adapted Isaac Watts's hymns for Native communities and how these texts are sites of affective sovereignty.
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Date: May 2017
Creator: Ridley, Sarah Elizabeth

Xenotopia: Death and Displacement in the Landscape of Nineteenth-Century American Authorship

Description: This dissertation is an examination of the interiority of American authorship from 1815–1866, an era of political, social, and economic instability in the United States. Without a well-defined historical narrative or an established literary lineage, writers drew upon death and the American landscape as tropes of unity and identification in an effort to define the nation and its literary future. Instead of representing nationalism or collectivism, however, the authors in this study drew on landscapes and death to mediate the crises of authorial displacement through what I term "xenotopia," strange places wherein a venerated American landscape has been disrupted or defamiliarized and inscribed with death or mourning. As opposed to the idealized settings of utopia or the environmental degradation of dystopia, which reflect the positive or negative social currents of a writer's milieu, xenotopia record the contingencies and potential problems that have not yet played out in a nation in the process of self-definition. Beyond this, however, xenotopia register as an assertion of agency and literary definition, a way to record each writer's individual and psychological experience of authorship while answering the call for a new definition of American literature in an indeterminate and undefined space.
Date: December 2017
Creator: Lewis, Darcy Hudelson