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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Mihoko Suzuki

Second Committee Member

Pamela S. Hammons

Third Committee Member

Guido Ruggiero

Fourth Committee Member

Nabil Matar


This dissertation focuses on the particular ways in which early modern English playwrights connect geographical territory depicted in charts, travel, and colonial literature to the female body. By examining the rhetorical methods that both male and female writers employ, I demonstrate how the emerging imperial discourse relies upon the idea that through marriage, women represent and convey territory for their male relatives. But as physical embodiments of family wealth and property that serve as crucial links between males, these women can subvert this use of their bodies in order to formulate a site of resistance to masculine modes of mapping that penetrate, explore, and chart both territory and bodies. Beginning with depictions of Queen Elizabeth and English geography, I investigate plays from the 1570s to the 1670s that reflect and reshape Elizabeth's cartography of her virgin body. In my consideration of Christopher Marlowe's Tragedie of Dido, Queene of Carthage, and Tamburlaine, I argue that although Dido and Zenocrate serve to represent their homelands and legitimize its conquest by their men, the two queens upset this rhetoric when they delineate their own geographic re-imaginings. Elizabeth Cary's The Tragedie of Mariam and The History of the Life, Reign, and Death of Edward II reveal how both Mariam and Isabel are inscribed by the same colonial rhetoric that imagines the women to be fertile land that can only be properly civilized by men. The next chapter reveals how Thomas Heywood's works reflect and legitimize the growing importance of trade rather than outright conquest in English overseas expansion. In If You Know Not Me, You Know No Bodie and The Fair Maid of the West, Heywood's Queen Elizabeth and her counterpart Bess Bridges demonstrate how any woman's virginity becomes a commodity to be used and traded as a representation of English virtue. The final chapter examines how Margaret Cavendish in Loves Adventures and Bell in Campo reclaims the body as a site of potential resistance by redeploying the rhetoric of virginity and cartography. The coda calls for continued investigation into the uses of geographic rhetoric through the example of Queen Anne.


Renaissance Drama; Cartography; Representations Of Women