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Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell

Description: Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell examines the Restoration and eighteenth-century libertine figure as it appears in John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester's Satyr against Mankind, "The Maim'd Debauchee," and "Upon His Drinking a Bowl," Thomas Shadwell's The Libertine, William Wycherley's The Country Wife, and James Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763. I argue that the limitations and self-contradictions of standard definitions of libertinism and the ways in which libertine protagonists and libertinism in general function as critiques of libertinism. Moreover, libertine protagonists and poetic personae reinterpret libertinism to accommodate their personal agendas and in doing so, satirize the idea of libertinism itself and identify the problematization of "libertinism" as a category of gender and social identity. That is, these libertines misinterpret-often deliberately-Hobbes to justify their opposition and refusal to obey social institutions-e.g., eventually marrying and engaging in a monogamous relationship with one's wife-as well as their endorsement of obedience to nature or sense, which can include embracing a libertine lifestyle in which one engages in sexual encounters with multiple partners, refuses marriage, and questions the existence of God or at least distrusts any sort of organized religion. Since any attempts to define the word "libertinism"-or at least any attempts to provide a standard definition of the word-are tenuous at best, it is equally tenuous to suggest that any libertines conform to conventional or standard libertinism. In fact, the literary and "real life" libertines in this study not only fail to conform to such definitions of libertinism, but also reinterpret libertinism. While all these libertines do possess similar characteristics-namely affluence, insatiable sexual appetites, and a rebellion against institutional authorities (the Church, reason, government, family, and marriage)-they often misinterpret libertinism, reason, and Hobbesian philosophy. Furthermore, they all choose different, unique ways to oppose patriarchal, social authorities. These aberrant ways ...
Date: May 2008
Creator: Smith, Victoria
Partner: UNT Libraries

Reforming Ritual: Protestantism, Women, and Ritual on the Renaissance Stage

Description: My dissertation focuses on representations of women and ritual on the Renaissance stage, situating such examples within the context of the Protestant Reformation. The renegotiation of the value, place, and power of ritual is a central characteristic of the Protestant Reformation in early modern England. The effort to eliminate or redirect ritual was a crucial point of interest for reformers, for most of whom the corruption of religion seemed bound to its ostentatious and idolatrous outer trappings. Despite the opinions of theologians, however, receptivity toward the structure, routine, and familiarity of traditional Catholicism did not disappear with the advent of Protestantism. Reformers worked to modify those rituals that were especially difficult to eradicate, maintaining some sense of meaning without portraying confidence in ceremony itself. I am interested in how early Protestantism dealt with the presence of elements (in worship, daily practice, literary or dramatic representation) that it derogatorily dubbed popish, and how women had a particular place of importance in this dialogue. Through the drama of Shakespeare, Webster, and Middleton, along with contemporary religious and popular sources, I explore how theatrical representations of ritual involving women create specific sites of cultural and theological negotiation. These representations both reflect and resist emerging attitudes toward women and ritual fashioned by Reformation thought, granting women a particular authority in the spiritual realm.
Date: December 2006
Creator: Reynolds, Paige Martin
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Fifth Humor: Ink, Texts, and the Early Modern Body

Description: This dissertation tracks the intimate relationship between writing and the body to add new dimensions to humoral criticism and textual studies of Renaissance literature. Most humor theory focuses on the volatile, permeable nature of the body, and its vulnerability to environmental stimuli, neglecting the important role that written texts play in this economy of fluids. I apply the principles of humor theory to the study of handwritten and printed texts. This approach demonstrates that the textual economy of the period—reading, writing, publishing, exchanging letters, performing all of the above on stage—mirrors the economy of fluids that governed the humoral body. Early modern readers and writers could imagine textual activities not only as cerebral, abstract concepts, but also as sexual activities, as processes of ingestion and regurgitation. My study of ink combines humoral, historical materialist, and ecocritical modes of study. Materialist critics have examined the quill, paper, and printing press as metaphors for the body; however, the ink within them remains unexamined. This dissertation infuses the figurative body of the press with circulating passions, and brings to bear the natural, biochemical properties that ink lends to the texts it creates. Considering the influence of written and printed materials on the body in early modern poetry and drama requires consideration of the murky liquid from which these texts were composed. For early moderns, writing began with the precise, anatomical slicing of a goose feather, with the crushing of oak galls into wine or rainwater, with the application of heat and ferrous sulfate. These raw materials underwent a violent transformation to fill early modern inkwells. As a result of that mystical concoction, the fluid inside these vessels became humoral. The ink on a page represented one person's passions potentially invading the body of another. Therefore, ink serves as more than a metaphor for ...
Date: December 2012
Creator: Polster, Kristen Kayem
Partner: UNT Libraries