Nuns and nunneries in the cultural memory of early modern English drama

Adachi, Mami (2016). Nuns and nunneries in the cultural memory of early modern English drama. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The Reformation had exposed ideas of female religiosity, ridiculing the contested site of the gendered bodies of nuns. Nevertheless, memories of pre-Reformation religion could not be easily destroyed. Nuns and nunneries are memorialised in a range of early modern English texts, among which this thesis identifies a number of tropes featuring nuns in historiography and drama. The first two chapters examine works by authors with differing agendas, John Foxe and Raphael Holinshed (Chapter 1), and John Stow and William Dugdale (Chapter 2), which can be regarded as memory banks of nun tropes. The next three chapters focus on tropes featuring nuns in drama from the mid 1580s to circa 1640. Chapter 3 examines references or allusions to dramatic nuns, which are generally stereotypical, suggesting the onset of cultural forgetting. Chapter 4 explores plays featuring nuns as characters, where nuns assume various roles, sometimes demonstrating a mix of tropical and innovative in a single play. Shakespeare’s utilisation of nun tropes while accommodating the symbolic value of female religious life to artistic needs is treated separately in Chapter 5. These dramatic tropes are seen to draw from and in turn feed into the tropes circulating in the culture of early modern England.

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, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater


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