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The Baseless Fabric: Literary Worlds and Global Relations in English Renaissance Literature

Dawson, Brent McKenzie (2014)
Dissertation (257 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Goldberg, Jonathan
Committee Members: Cahill, Patricia ; Mitchell, Andrew J ; Rambuss, Richard (Brown University)
Research Fields: Literature, English
Keywords: Worldhood; Globalization; Materiality; Fiction
Program: Laney Graduate School, English
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/gjd5h

Abstract

"The Baseless Fabric" is a study of the multiple senses of worldhood in early modern literature and culture. Its aim is to provide a new model for discussing global relations by attending to the tensions that animate early modern notions of universal connection and that, I argue, still structure modern ideas of globalization. Crossing national and disciplinary boundaries, I trace the connections and tensions between the multiple notions of worldhood that circulate in the period--travel accounts of the "New World," philosophical theories of multiple worlds, cartographic representations of the globe, and the "world" of a work of art. Each chapter centers on one literary work and a sense of worldhood developed therein--worldly matter in Spenser's Faerie Queene, the world-as-stage in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, polygenesis in Cavendish's Blazing World, and multiple worlds in Milton's Paradise Lost. By attending to the plurality of discourses of worldhood in early modernity, I offer a starting point for thinking the range and complexity of ideas of universalityin the period beyond a traditional humanist framework.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction: "A Kind of World Remaining".......................................................................1

1. Making Sense of the World: Allegory and Materiality in The Faerie Queene..............48

2. The World Staged: Universality and Fictiveness in Antony and Cleopatra................100

3. The Pleasure in Parts: The Blazing World and Early Modern Polygenesis..................140

4. Milton and the Stars: Consideration in Paradise Lost.................................................186

Works Cited.....................................................................................................................226

Notes................................................................................................................................243

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