Renaissance geographies : space, text and history in early modern England
In examining the relationships between space, text and history in the early modern period, this thesis reads sixteenth and seventeenth century texts in the context of the new geographies and the shifts in spatial awareness that accompany the arrival of the early modern period. In doing so, it also employs a 'spatialised' mode of criticism that, rather than privilege any one kind of text, seeks to view all texts alongside one another, within what Foucault calls the 'space of a dispersion'. This situates the thesis within a developing interest, in renaissance studies, both in early modern spatialities, as exemplified by the work of Richard Helgerson, John Gillies and others, and in postmodern approaches to the renaissance. It is the starting point of this thesis that space is produced, rather than a vacuum waiting to be filled by the actions and actors of history. It is also a contention of this thesis that this production of space takes place on a variety of fronts. It is neither limited to the visual or plastic arts, nor the result, solely, of changing economic and political situations. The texts covered include, therefore, plays as well as political pamphlets, poetry as well as maps, scientific treatises as well as portraits. It is organised around three successive 'moments' in sixteenth and seventeenth century England - Elizabethan imperialism reign following the defeat of the Armada, the union project of James VI and I, and the immediate aftermath of the English civil wars. Rather than being seen in a chronological narrative of cause and effect, these moments 'haunt' each other, living on beyond themselves, structuring the representation of space in new contexts. Understood as anachronism, this kind of effect is one result of using 'space' alongside 'history' as the horizon against which textual analysis is performed.