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.

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

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

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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