Publication Date

2010-05-11

Availability

Open access

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2010-03-26

First Committee Member

Mihoko Suzuki - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Pamela Hammons - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Guido Ruggiero - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Susanne Woods - Outside Committee Member

Abstract

This project explores the ways in which early modern English women writers engaged with the rhetoric of ideal male friendship. Early modern writers on friendship, drawing from classical texts such as Cicero's De Amicitia, most often defined friendship as a relationship of equality between two virtuous men. Women writers revised this dominant discourse by arguing for their own ability to practice virtuous friendship, thus investing women's friendships with the political significance long carried by the male tradition. In this dissertation, I discuss Isabella Whitney, Aemilia Lanyer, Elizabeth Cary, and Katherine Philips as writers who depict friendships that overcome class or gender differences through the common virtue of the participants. Placing these works alongside those of male writers on friendship such as Francis Bacon, Michel de Montaigne, and William Shakespeare, I demonstrate the ways in which early modern women writers created a space for their own participation in an often exclusionary discourse.

Keywords

Early Modern; Women's Writing; Friendship; Renaissance

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