Copious voices in early modern English writing
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This thesis takes as its object of study a certain strand of Early Modern English writing characterised by its cornucopian invention, immethodical structure, and creatively exuberant, often chaotic, means of expression. It takes as its point of departure the Erasmian theory of ‘copia’ (rhetorical abundance), expanding upon it freely in order to formulate new and independent notions of copious vernacular writing as it is practised in 16th- and 17th-century contexts. Throughout I argue for the continuity and pervasiveness of the pursuit of linguistic plenitude, in contrast to a prevailing belief that the outpouring of 'words' and 'things' started to dissipate in the transition from one century (16th) to the next (17th). The writers to be discussed are Thomas Nashe, Robert Burton, John Taylor the ‘Water-Poet’, and Sir Thomas Urquhart. Each of the genres in which these writers operate–prose-poetry, the essay, the pamphlet, and the universal language–emerge either toward the end of the 16th century or during the course of the 17th century, and so can be said to take copious writing in new and experimental directions not fully accounted for in the current scholarship. My contribution to the literature lies principally in its focus on the emergence of these literary forms in an Early Modern English context, with an emphasis on the role played by copiousness of expression in their stylistic development and how they in turn develop the practice of copia.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-04-01
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 1st April 2020
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