Hellish enfleshment: embodying anti-Catholicism in early modern English culture

PhD Thesis


Malone, Lachlan. 2015. Hellish enfleshment: embodying anti-Catholicism in early modern English culture. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

Hellish enfleshment: embodying anti-Catholicism in early modern English culture

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorMalone, Lachlan
SupervisorChalk, Darryl
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages157
Year2015
Abstract

This dissertation focuses on a term that I call “hellish enfleshment”: early modern English descriptions of Catholicism that connect anti-papal sentiment to the human
body. I examine this term in the work of preachers, poets, political writers, monarchs, and playwrights who not only approach anti-Catholic discourse through corporeal
metaphors, but also attempt to link Catholicism with malevolence, disease, political dissension, and discordant sound. Exploring the significance of the human body in
anti-papal writing, I investigate how a range of early modern texts located in differing spheres enflesh dramatists’ conceptions of the Catholic body in their immediate historical setting. The embodiment of anti-Catholic discourse, I argue, occurs within
the early modern English playhouse, as it is in this locale that playwrights attempt to affect playgoers’ bodies through sensory phenomena inexorably shaped by
contemporary anti-Catholic attitudes. Examining several dramas that explicitly embody anti-papal discourse, the majority of this thesis analyses texts that engage
with early modern corporeality through literal and metaphoric allusions to the body: Barnabe Barnes’s The Devil’s Charter (1607), Thomas Dekker’s The Whore of
Babylon (1606), the anonymous Lust’s Dominion (c. 1600), and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (c. 1600). These plays, I argue, engage with the human body or reflect on its
role in regard to fashioning anti-Catholic sentiment. Throughout this thesis, I attempt to examine discrete moments and cultural idiosyncrasies in these playtexts, utilizing contemporary religious, medical, and political works to investigate the experiential qualities of an anti-Catholic discourse whilst contextualizing this evidence through references to early modern literature. Rather than analyse Catholicism as an international religio-political institution in early modern England, I have chosen
instead to examine Catholicism as a domestic phenomenon in the imagination of English playwrights.

Keywordshellish enfleshment; human body; anti-Catholicism; literature
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470504. British and Irish literature
500405. Religion, society and culture
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Arts and Communication
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