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    Renovating romance : experimentation in English narrative fiction, 1645-1665

    Griffiths, Catrin Mererid (2019) Renovating romance : experimentation in English narrative fiction, 1645-1665. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis investigates the significance of literary experimentation in the years 1645-1665, a period of profound social and political change and of prolific romance production. It studies twelve English romances written in the long interregnum between 1645 and 1665, from William Sales’s Theophania (c.1645) to John Crowne’s Pandion and Amphigenia (1665). The texts discussed include heroic romances, parodies, political romans à clef and Christian fiction, in prose and verse. The thesis argues that English romances embarked on a conscious programme of generic renewal that responds to social and political upheaval. The thesis marries close textual analysis of romance with a reading of how generic transformation articulates social and political change. Each of the chapters centres on a transhistorical feature of romance: the representation of combat, the monarch, gender disguise ending in marriage, the hero’s body and the triumph of virtue. Taken together, each of these topics underpins forms of social authority: aristocratic honour and a warrior caste, the power of Elizabethan and Stuart monarchy, the social regulation of desire, the cultural primacy of masculinity, and a Christian articulation of moral duty and sacrifice. The chapters examine the transformation of each feature with reference to a variety of contemporary texts, such as news books, political tracts, medical theories, contemporary French literature, parody and religious writing as well as earlier fiction. In doing so, the thesis engages with wider studies of mid-century textual culture and suggests that in absorbing these discourses, romance registers a myriad of social and political transformations. The thesis responds to a number of constructions of romance production in this period. In following the contours of the romance publishing market of the long interregnum it adopts a longer periodisation than the formal duration of the republic 1649-1660, and in doing so opens up the texts as responsive to multiple discourses of power. By reading long-interregnum narratives in tandem with a broad range of texts from different genres, the thesis emphasises the hybrid and absorptive nature of romance in this period. The study unearths connections between the texts that have not hitherto been registered within a critical taxonomy that bifurcates interregnum fiction as heroic romance and roman à clef.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2024 14:35
    Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 21:47


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