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Materialising Time in early modern religious literature

Evans, Catherine R. (2018) Materialising Time in early modern religious literature. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis examines how early modern religious texts make time visible in their material forms. The period has been conceptualized as one in which secular and sacred time became separated from one another, moving from a communally shared, cyclical sense of the year based on the agricultural and church calendar to a linear, individualistic notion of time. The thesis seeks to complicate this progression. A small-scale study of the holdings of annotated almanacs in the Huntington Library demonstrates how readers and writers visualized time within texts. This evidence suggests there was a high degree of flexibility in how time could be perceived in the period, as different temporal systems could be combined and moved between. Disparate points in time could be brought together in the book as a memory system. The second chapter focuses on psalm translations to explore how the re-writing of a Biblical text could be part of a process of re-timing it: making it applicable for the present moment. Matthew Parker’s historicizing mission in translation and antiquarianism is contrasted to the lyric modes of translation seen in Anne Lock and Mary Sidney Herbert’s renderings of Psalm 51, miserere mei deus. The focus on the materiality of time in texts is predicated on the idea that reading is an explicitly temporal activity – reaching back to history or creating anew. This idea is explored in Chapter 3, examining George Herbert’s writings, particularly his hieroglyphic and pattern poetry. Evidence for Herbert’s early readers is considered to examine how these poems could take on particular weight as memorial objects. The final chapter begins with a study of the marketing of sermons (1620-1642). The evidence from this survey informs the exploration of how preachers including John Donne, Joseph Hall and John Day captured the time and place of the performed sermon in their published works. As a whole, the thesis seeks to explore the ways in which texts can capture complex, polytemporal systems of memory and experience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: early modern literature; religious literature; John Donne; George Herbert; Mary Sidney Herbert; Anne Lock; Sermons; Time; Temporality; almanacs
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Catherine R. Evans
Date Deposited: 28 May 2019 09:12
Last Modified: 28 May 2019 09:12
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23800

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