The political allegory of lovesickness and the lovesick womb in early modern studies, with an emphasis on Spenser

Swannack, FI 2010, The political allegory of lovesickness and the lovesick womb in early modern studies, with an emphasis on Spenser , PhD thesis, Salford : University of Salford.

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The Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser published his sonnet sequence Visions of the Worlds Vanitie in a collection called Complaints in 1591, and the Amoretti and Epithalamion in 1595. I am analysing these poems and other appropriate early modern texts by using the allegorical vehicle of the Renaissance medical and philosophical notion of lovesickness. However, in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, lovesickness is either interchangeable with or replaced by love-melancholy, which is a more fashionable illness describing the courtly Lover's suffering for his Lady. I am arguing that lovesickness is a more extreme illness. In Spenser's sonnet sequences Visions of the Worlds Vanitie and the Amoretti, I will analyse how the male Lover describes a bestial and grotesque condition as a destructive force, which invokes the courtly conflict between Lover and Lady. Spenser will also be compared and contrasted with other early modern sonnet sequences to identify different evocations of lovesickness, which employ language that is less hyperbolic than that found in Visions of the Worlds Vanitie and the Amoretti. Lovesickness will also be used to analyse the conflict between internal and external space, with a concept I have termed the lovesick womb. In early modern England, the womb is a powerful signifier because it is the source of extreme carnal desires, which are hidden from the patriarchal gaze. However, the lovesick womb not only conceals itself from patriarchal influence but it can also harm patriarchal law by intensifying its desire. The lovesick womb's inferred promiscuity that leads to unplanned pregnancies increases the desire of patriarchal law - to domineer and control. A political allegory of lovesickness and the lovesick womb will be used to provide an insightful critique of Queen Elizabeth I and her court. It also has implications for Spenser's own sense of identity as a representative New VllEnglish settler living in Ireland from 1580-1598. These implications serve further as a critique of Elizabethan colonial practice in which the queen's physical presence in Ireland is advocated as a solution to its problems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Brewster, S (Supervisor) and Buse, P (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2012 13:34
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 11:24

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