Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

English

First Advisor

Peter Stallybrass

Abstract

This dissertation charts a literary and cultural history of memorialization in England between about 1500 and 1700, a period when writing assumes a more socially and symbolically central role in responding to loss. Attending to the material practices of mourning and commemoration as they take place through writing alongside other media including cloth, stone, jewelry, and physical displays of grief, this project describes the shaping influences of a larger material culture on poetic practices and forms. Occasional, brief, even routine memorial poems, I argue, are invested with a distinct form of pre-modern literary value tied to these texts’ ability to overlay intimate social networks with the largest historical and political imaginaries. By focusing on unfamiliar or unexpected archival survivals alongside the canonical elegies and epitaphs of major authors, this dissertation revises and expands our categories of both “text” and “literature.” The broadly diffused culture of memory it describes traverses boundaries of class and gender as well as of the exceptional and the everyday.

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