Year of Publication

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Giancarlo

Abstract

Exile is, as Edward Said so eloquently put it, “the perilous territory of not-belonging.” Exiled peoples operate on the margins of their native culture: part of it, but excluded from it permanently or temporarily. Broadly speaking, my project explores the impact of exile on English literature of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. English exiles appear frequently in literary studies of the period, but little attention has thus far been focused on the effect of exile itself on late medieval and early modern authors. Historical studies on exile have been more prevalent and engaging. My project builds on this work and contributes new and groundbreaking investigations into the literary reflections of these important topics, mapping the influence of exile on trans-Reformation English literature.

My dissertation identifies and defines a new, critical lens focusing on later medieval and early modern literature. I call this lens the “mind of exile,” a cognitive phenomenon that influences textual structure, and metaphorical usage, as well as shapes individual and national identities. It contributes new theories regarding the development of polemic as a genre and their contribution to the development of the “nation-state” idea that occurred in the sixteenth century. It identifies a new genre I call polemic chronicle, which adopts and deploys the conventions of chronicle in order to declare a personal and/or national identity. Lastly, it contributes new scholarship to Spenser studies by building on established scholarship exploring the hybrid identity of Edmund Spenser. To these studies, I add fresh critical readings of A View of the State of Ireland and Colin Clouts Comes Home Againe. Both texts represent, I argue, proto-colonial literature influenced by Spenser’s mind of exile that explore England’s new position at the end of the sixteenth century as a burgeoning imperial power.

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