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Title: Increase of Issue: Poetry and Succession in Elizabethan England
Authors: Case, Sarah
Advisors: Dolven, Jeff
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Early Modern Poetry
Elizabeth I
Subjects: English literature
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The controversy over who would take the throne after Elizabeth I’s death arose from her refusal to do what was expected of her as both a monarch and a woman: namely, marry and produce an heir. The great uncertainty over what would come next for the Elizabethans after the death of their monarch, a subject of debate from the time of Elizabeth’s accession in 1558 to her death in 1603, provided an opportunity for poets to explore uncertainty as it related to ideas of continuity in verse. Coupled with an enduring national anxiety about the possibility of civil war after Elizabeth’s death was the Parliamentary gag order, in the form of the 1571 Treasons Act, which banned discussion of the succession. Increase of Issue: Poetry and Succession in Elizabethan England explores the relationship between monarchical succession and poetic innovation during the reign of Elizabeth I, arguing that a scepticism of the ability of the past to make secure the future emerged in English poetry during this period. The first chapter explores the relationship between gender, rhetoric, and debates about the succession in the works of George Puttenham. Analyzing his lesser-known writings, this chapter argues that the succession debates shaped Puttenham’s poetics manual, The Arte of English Poesy. Chapter Two examines how Elizabeth’s demand for silence on the matter of the succession led Sir Philip Sidney to imagine alternate forms of counsel in the pastoral eclogues of his Arcadia. The third chapter focuses on the genealogical cantos of The Faerie Queene, arguing that Edmund Spenser used the stanza and canto structures of this poem to imagine a version of order in reaction to the disrupted succession. Chapter Four concludes the project by considering the implications of the succession debate on Shakespeare’s sonnets. In tracing the multiple chronologies of these poems, this chapter focuses in particular on the fact that reproduction could no longer provide an answer to the uncertain succession in the late period of Elizabeth’s reign. Shakespeare’s sonnet speaker debates how forms of reproduction and increase operate in relation to the desire for political, personal, and poetic continuity.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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