(Re)using Women: The Image Debate In Early Modern Allegory

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(Re)using Women: The Image Debate In Early Modern Allegory

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Title: (Re)using Women: The Image Debate In Early Modern Allegory
Author: Hubnik, Sandi J.
Abstract: This project is concerned with how, during the reign of Elizabeth I, early modern writers use the representations of certain allegorical women characters to discuss the issues central to the image debate and the need for proper interpretation. The relationship between women and images makes such a movement possible. The well-established misogynistic discourse on women lends itself well to the reconstruction of the discourse concerning images; both express a certain amount of anxiety over the outward sign - the body - and its unreliability as a conduit for moral or spiritual purity. Early modern Protestant and Catholic writers often use this system of discourse in similar ways, but to argue for different views. My focus is on how such writers employ the bodies and voices of women characters to either reinforce or redirect particular ideas about images, and how they use allegorical texts to do so. Because allegory is a mode of expression that relies on (and is, at times, even burdened by) metaphor, and thus begs for interpretation, it becomes an ideal vehicle for articulating ideas about images and women simultaneously. There is an established body of criticism that makes various connections among allegory, women, and images, but most of these works only elaborate on two of the three elements, often not mentioning or only superficially treating the third. For such an examination as this work accomplishs, I look to allegorical texts written by both Protestant and Catholic writers of the period, including: The Shippe of Safegarde, Book I of The Faerie Queene, A Fig for Fortune, and The Transformed Metamorphosis. Analyses of these works compose the greater part of this dissertation. Other primary resources for my project include religio-political texts dating from the 16th centuries, patristic writings, Biblical prefaces and commentaries, and information gathered from the period's annals.
Date: 2010-07-19
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