Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Johnny Wink

Second Advisor

Dr. Tom Greer

Third Advisor

Dr. Isaac M.T. Mwase

Abstract

Aemilia Lanyer's poetry has been hidden in obscurity since its first appearance in 1611. Despite the efforts of Renaissance--and, more aggressively, feminist--scholars to bring her Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum to the attention of the literate public, the mention of Lanyer's name still elicits frowns and scratched heads from non-specialist readers. Attempting to canonize such a little-known author almost screams literary affirmative action to conservative readers, especially when the validity of Lanyer scholarship has not been determined. Before such action, affirmative or otherwise, can be taken, we must first define modern criteria for the literary canon, and then examine Lanyer's poetry on its own merits. Only then can her position as a representative of her gender and culture be considered as a factor in canonization.

In this thesis I will attempt to introduce Lanyer's poetry to a new audience by explicating major passages of Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, particularly her non-traditional Biblical allusions and interpretations. I will also present what is known about her life and her relationships with the women she solicited as patrons. I will then construct an argument in favor of Lanyer's works being canonized.

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