‘Dress and undress thy soul’: nakedness and theology in early modern literature and culture

Routledge, Amy (2014). ‘Dress and undress thy soul’: nakedness and theology in early modern literature and culture. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines how concepts and images of nakedness are used to shape literary and theological meaning and experience within the literature and culture of early modern England. It considers how nakedness functions within a number of key literary and spiritual forms, including theological treatises, the spiritual allegory, religious lyrics, and drama. The first three chapters establish the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of nakedness, through an examination of the Bible, the works of Martin Luther and John Calvin, Anglican Church practice and debate, and anatomical texts and practices. The final three chapters offer a close analysis of the meaning and affect of nakedness within three distinct literary forms. This thesis contends that nakedness has a spiritual potency: a spiritual charge recognised and utilised by early modern theologians, preachers and writers, as they debated, defined and expressed their faith. It considers how far the meaning of nakedness is shaped by gender, and how early modern society negotiated the tensions between bodily sanctity and obscenity, naked praise and pornography. The thesis concludes by reflecting how far tropes and experiences of nakedness in our time remain obscurely charged, albeit in non-theological contexts, with something like theological meaning.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham, Lizz Ketterer Trust
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5536


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