Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation argues that Donne's homiletic method manifests a fictive and processive structure which imitates God's historically revelatory working with his people. Integral to this mimetic structure are several dramatic techniques which forward the action.;Donne's "theory" of mimesis may be constructed by analyzing his comments concerning the imitation of historical precedents. Such comments reveal Donne's trust in the ability of experience to purify the soul and his belief that growth may be incuded by doubt, affliction, and virtuous choice, actions which imitate the actions of the faithful witnesses who make up Christ's body. Donne asserts that the beauty which best moves individuals is active and familiar; consequently, the preacher depicts action through the use of personae , soliloquies, dramatic monologues, varying esthetic distances with the audience, and realistic description.;These individual techniques are placed within the sermon's overarching structure, representing a spiritual pilgrimage or plot in which the auditor's faculties are reoriented. Close scrutiny of Donne's view of the soul's faculities shows how he exercises and reintergrates them, thus offsetting the effects of sin. Each sermon manifests several stages in a psychological journey, including an offer of reconciliation, the fearful recognition of sin, the exercise of the faculties through choice, a feeling of tragic joy and catharsis, and an implied resolution, ultimately accomplished by the auditor's active incarnation of Christ.;Donne's willingness to portray characters realistically depends upon his conviction that historical process, from nature to grace to glory, manifests a universal pattern in a particular example. History must be represented so that the auditor can claim it as his own. Since the wisdom acquired from history is not conceptual information about God, but imitative knowledge leading to charitable acts, Donne dramatically depicts historical "types" and collates past experiences which reveal providence's direction. These historical representations encourage the auditor to participate in God's evolving design.;Donne's mimetic principles are summarized in an analysis of his sermon on St. Paul's conversion.



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