Abstracts: Volume 1

elizabeth1

"Reflections: Spenser, Elizabeth I, and Mirror Literature"
by Rebecca Dark
In Book Three of Spenser's Faerie Queen frequently, the magical mirror in which Britomart first sees the image of her beloved--and object of her quest--is the most prominent of the many mirrors found throughout the text. It functions as a crucial intersection of the conventional courtly mirror of love and the hortatory mirror of religious and political discourse. This mirror transforms Britomart into both a completely appropriate avatar of Elizabeth and a completely legible message to the poem's most prominent audience member, the Queen. This paper argues that Spenser's message of admiration and instruction to his queen can be read most clearly when Britomart and her mirror are contextualized by an understanding of the courtly and hortatory mirror traditions.
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"'The End is Not Yet': Monarch, Choice, and the Problematic Binaries of Representation"
by William Rogers
Ten years before the publication of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene John Stubbs wrote an infamous pamphlet, Into The Gaping Gulf, that addressed not only the perils of Elizabeth's foreign marriage, but highlighted the danger in portrayal of her most iconic virtue, her chastity. While all of The Faerie Queene arguably depicts Elizabeth, Book Three--centered as it is on chastity--offers a particularly potent and dangerous experiment in representation, as any discussion of chastity would speak directly to the poem's most important reader and her most powerful iconographic tool. Spenser creates a world in which the reader is forced to interpret the multivalent images of Elizabeth and thereby alleviates the perilous risks that accompany depiction of the monarch. This paper argues that politically dangerous misrepresentations are avoided through the ambiguity that ultimately is engendered through Spenser's use of medieval political theology.
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"Authorized Discourse at the Kenilworth Entertainments"
by Joy Sterrantino
Much has been written on Queen Elizabeth I as the Virgin Queen, the scorner of courtiers, the wife (or husband) of England. Her favorite courtier was unarguably Robert Dudley, with whom she had a lifelong relationship. Her visit to Kenilworth in the summer of 1575 was the most extravagant and most famous of her reign. This paper argues that the Kenilworth entertainments are more than an example of her approach to ruling that insisted on being among her people. Nor are they just a vignette of royal indulgence. The greatest significance of her visit is her interaction with Dudley, with this visit being the culmination of a failing courtship that spanned almost twenty years. The crux of this argument is based on Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of "authorized discourse."
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"Marlowe's Tribute to His Queen in Dido, Queen of Carthage"
by Jennifer M. Caro-Barnes
Christopher Marlowe's title character in The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage addresses the marriage question, as did most Elizabethan literature during this time, but Marlowe's approach is more praise and less advice. Prior to Cupid's enchantment, Dido is a queen to be reckoned with; however, this spell causes her to become a dependant, love-struck worshipper of Aeneas and eventually drives her to her death. Using Dido and Aeneas, Marlowe praises Queen Elizabeth's strength as a monarch by presenting what could have been had she bowed to the pressures of Parliament to marry. Marlowe commends his queen for her eventual choice in a "husband" (meaning her "marriage" to England) by illustrating the consequences of giving in to the pressures of choosing an unworthy mate.
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"Elizabeth's Symbolic Marriage to English: A History of Lasting Union"
by Jill Hall
This paper examines the rhetoric of Elizabeth's speech about entering into a symbolic marriage with England from a religious studies perspective in order to investigate how the content of Elizabeth's speech utilizes a rhetoric of political theology about the king's two bodies. Via rhetoric, Elizabeth was able to enter into a symbolic marriage with England, which created a union between King Henry VIII and James I's Protestant goals, thus establishing a national identity in England.
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"The Rhetoric of Mortality: Elizabeth I's Use of Death"
by Luke Tesdal
This paper examines Elizabeth I's use of death in her rhetoric. Built as a reaction to Henry VIII's apparent view of lives as expendable, Elizabeth attempted to forge her own indelible identity within the hearts of her subjects while warding off the dangerous advances of her male courtiers. The major issues and themes of her reign can be broken down into three broad and overlapping categories, each equally influential on her rhetoric of death. As assuredly as she ruled by God's will Elizabeth would have to give account before Him in the next life, and she professed this to be the standard she lived by. In Elizabeth's rhetoric, death becomes the most potent argumentative device in her arsenal and demonstrates her ability to change her greatest weakness into her greatest strength.
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