TitleThe world disfigured
NameTranter, Kirsten (author), Coiro, Ann (chair), McKeon, Michael (internal member), Miller, Jacqueline (internal member), Dolven, Jeff (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
English poetry--Early modern, 1500-1700--History and criticism
DescriptionThis dissertation explores moments in poetry of the English Renaissance where figurative language itself is "disfigured" in a way that reflects on the conditions of its own making. In their use of reflexive and disjunctive figures, the poets in my study attend to the problems inherent in representing a world in the process of radical change, and participate in a broad cultural concern with the status of language as a mediating device. Renaissance handbooks on poetics emphasize the need for apt correspondence between things compared in figures such as metaphor, but the poets in my study ask how conventional relationships of correspondence can be maintained in a context of historical disruption: amid royal executions and revolution, religious turmoil and profound changes in understanding the material world.
Book V of Spenser's Faerie Queene, the book that suggests the plainest relationship between history and poetry, in fact unsettles any easy sense of the correspondence between terms in the allegorical figure and problematizes the idea of analogy. Donne's Anniversaries represent a world thrown into disproportion by the passing away of an old analogical system. His figures of excess and disproportion draw attention to the limits of figures of comparison, critiquing and revising the forms with which they engage. In response to the devastations of the Civil War, the Royalist poet and pamphleteer Samuel Sheppard creates a literally ruined world where "Confusion here inthroniz'd sits" in the kingdom of Ruina. His unfinished epic poem The Faerie King struggles to find representational forms adequate for a historical moment of pronounced literary and political upheaval. Marvell's "Upon Appleton House" exploits the reflexive properties of catachresis and other figures of disjunction to reflect critically on historical "progress" and the processes of figuration. "'Tis not what it once was, the world,/ But a rude heap together hurled," mourns Marvell; the world is turned upside down in strange, disorienting figures "together hurled" that offer a new, disjunctive language from the ruins of the old.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 220-228).
Noteby Kirsten Isobel Tranter
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.