Deviant bodies and the reordering of desire: Heterosexuality and nation-building in early modern England
AuthorTvordi, Jessica Lynn
AdvisorBrown, Meg Lota
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDeviant Bodies explores how post-Reformation anxieties about institutional politics, civic morality, and national boundaries inform--and are informed by--early modern discourses on sexual deviance. Focusing on works by John Bale, John Lyly, Edmund Spenser, James I, Thomas Carew, Andrew Marvell, and John Milton, my study argues that the disruptive presence of queer desire plays an integral role in shaping the emerging, interrelated discourses of heterosexuality and nationalism in early modern culture. Looking at heterosexuality as a complex structure organizing political and sexual relations, my project analyzes the production, circulation, and eradication of deviant sexuality in polemical and literary works that imagine the nation within the context of Protestant political reform. Through its analysis of the textual roots of early English nationalism, Deviant Bodies reveals the extent to which cultural representations of the nation are constituted through sexual deviance. Rather than focusing on the recovery of an essentialist or constructed notion of a "queer" early modern self, however, my study examines the mechanisms of the early modern state--the monarchy, the church, the judiciary, and the parliament--that imagine the existence of sexually deviant individuals or groups. To that end, my study focuses not simply on the historical and literary representation of same-gender sexual desires, acts, or relationships, but rather on the complex relationship of such representations to the institutions that first produce and later obliterate them. Deviant Bodies examines the relationship of sexual aberrance to other categories of cultural deviance with which it is frequently conflated: gender insubordination, religious transgression, and the abuses of political authority most frequently associated with kingship. Through its exploration of the cultural deviance associated with women, papists, and kings in early modern England, this study considers the ways that the nation depends on a complex ideology of deviance in order to constructs its own seemingly immutable borders.
Degree ProgramGraduate College