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"And the trees of the fields shall clap their hands" Ecologies of nature and spirituality in the poems of Spenser, Marvell, Lanyer, and Jonson

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Description: My project explores how early modern religious poetry contributes to or resists the creation of an anthropocentric Christian literary tradition. I examine allegory and country house poems, two literary modes that have traditionally been read through an anthropocentric lens. My study offers an ecocritical reading of the first book of Spenser's The Faerie Queene , as well as three country house poems - Marvell's "Upon Appleton House"; Lanyer's "The Description of Cooke-ham"; and Jonson's "To Penshurst." These texts are provocative for their interest in the relationship between the human and non-human world, for their investment in cultivating spiritually upright behavior, and because they have received relatively scarce critical attention for their ecological consciousness. I argue that these texts present nature - particularly the landforms, vegetation, and its inhabitants - as a signifying presence that (1) metaphorizes human spiritual development; (2) indexes spiritual development; (3) and edifies humans with spiritual knowledge.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work