Imagining corrupt consumption : the genesis and evolution of the pox metaphor in sixteenth-century England (1494-1606)
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This thesis attempts to examine the birth and development of the pox metaphor in sixteenth-century English literature. In researching this literary history of a disease---of syphilis' life as an early modem metaphor---I have attempted to contextualize the pox metaphor's development within the social and economic constructs that led to the early modern conflation of excessive consumption with poxy corruption. This conflation freed the metaphor from the confines of discussion on disease and allowed early modern authors the freedom to apply pockifed tropes to describe various social ills and abuses. Initially these pox metaphors were restricted to sexualized subject matter such as inconstant women, but through the rise of satire, the metaphor became a means of describing London as rampant, diseased and corrupt. Finally, Shakespeare was able to take the pox and apply it to the economic sickness that was affecting England by inscribing appetites with consuming pox-inspired qualities that were, in effect, a commentary on the uncontrolled rise of the capitalist state and the dangers of desire.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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