Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation explores the circulation of radical social and political ideas in the literature of the 1640-1660 Revolution, when England's most fundamental institutions, from the monarchy to the patriarchal family, appeared in danger of annihilation. For students of literature, the period is so rich that its relative neglect seems remarkable. A lapse in government control over the nation's printing presses resulted in a veritable explosion of books, pamphlets and broadsides, and a literature that offers an unprecedented diversity of views and voices. Surveying a wide range of texts, from the familiar to the lesser-known, my study draws upon insights gleaned from cultural-materialist, new-historicist, and feminist criticism in an attempt to view the culture of mid-seventeenth century England as a complex set of dialogues between elite and non-elite voices.;The first section deals with real and imagined threats to the hierarchy of social rank. It begins with a chapter on Brome's A Jovial Crew, which, with its exploration of begging and vagrancy, anticipates the debates that would shortly achieve wide recognition with the rise of the Digger movement. The second chapter looks at constructions of popular political activism, with a focus on the role such constructions played in the propaganda war between the army leaders and those of the "Leveller" movement. The final chapter examines Marvell's "Upon Appleton House," which discloses the unsettling position of England's wealthy landowners in the wake of the regicide.;Section II turns to the seemingly imperilled hierarchy of gender. It opens with a chapter on the writings of female petitioners and the satirical responses to their activities. An equally hostile response was accorded sectarian women who claimed the power of prophecy; the second chapter looks at their writings and their implications. The reactions to both groups demonstrate anxiety over the state of the family, the model and building block of the commonwealth. The final chapter highlights this connection between the family and the state through an examination of some contemporary uses of marriage as a political metaphor.
Patton, Brian Leonard, "Radical Possibilities: Literature In The English Revolution, 1640-1660" (1993). Digitized Theses. 2253.