Title

Early modern women writers and humility as rhetoric : Aemilia Lanyer's table-turning use of modesty

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name

M.A. in English

Department

Department of English

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: Elizabeth Ann Mackay

Abstract

16th and 17th century women's writing contains a pervasive language of self-effacement, which has been documented and analyzed by scholars, but the focus remains on the sincerity of the act, even though humility was often employed as a successful rhetorical tool by both classic orators and Renaissance male writers. Aemilia Lanyer's Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum has been read in this tradition of sincere humility, and even when it has not, scholars have focused on the dedicatory paratext, thus minimizing Lanyer's poetic prowess. I argue that Lanyer's poem-proper employs modesty as a strategic rhetorical device, giving added credibility and importance to her work. By removing the lens of modesty as sincerity, I hope to encourage a reexamination of the texts of Renaissance women and remove them from their 'silent, chaste and obedient' allocation by/for the modern reader.

Keywords

Lanyer, Aemilia. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum Criticism and interpretation, Humility in literature, Women in literature, Poets, English Early modern, 1500-1700 History and criticism, British and Irish literature; gender; literature; rhetoric; womens studies; Aemilia Lanyer; early modern women writers; humility; rhetoric

Rights Statement

Copyright 2013, author

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