Shifting targets in Reformation allegory: five case studies, 1515-1575

Perysinakis, Reem Maria (2016) Shifting targets in Reformation allegory: five case studies, 1515-1575. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the shifting targets of evil in English Reformation allegory during particularly turbulent social and religious changes, between 1534 and 1575, when the notion of evil was used as a polemical weapon by authors with a progressive reformist agenda. I examine how the concept of evil, as delineated by the philosophy of ‘moral absolutism’, and its associated theological theories, although remained static (good and evil are defined in a diametrically opposed construct, and determined by a deity), the nature of evil (whether evil is something we all have within us or is an external force) changed from a pre-Reformation construct to a Reformation configuration, and the targets of that which was considered evil shifted thereafter.

I employ a historicist and intertextual approach, where meaning does not reside in the text. Instead, meaning is produced by my own reading in relation both to each text under scruitiny and to the network of texts invoked in the reading process, which is conducted within the context of each of these texts’ social, political, theological and cultural history. I draw on biographical, political, and theological accounts, alongside literary texts and analysis, focusing on five specific case studies from 1515 to 1575. Plays by John Skelton, John Bale, Nicolas Udall, Lewis Wager and prose by William Baldwin are analysed in conjunction with contemporary literary works and tracts, which include those by William Tyndale, Bernadino Ochino, John Frith, Robert Crowley, Edmund Dudley, Thomas More, John Knox and Anthony Gilby. I examine texts that have received considerable scholarly attention, with the aim of focusing on their polemical targeting of individuals, groups and institutions via allegorical evil characterisation. I argue that scholarship has neglected to engage with a crucial facet of the texts under scrutiny: one that can provide important additional insights into Reformation allegory, and the particularly fractious and contested instances of Tudor history that produced them.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0411 Renaissance and Reformation. 16th century
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 06 May 2016 12:49
Last Modified: 09 May 2016 08:12
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60799

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