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Title: Prison writings of the English Reformation, c.1530-1558
Author: Ahnert, R. R.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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There has been a growing awareness among scholars of the close and complex relationship between writing and oppression in Reformation England. Until now, however, there has been no systematic study of the writings produced from prison during this period. My thesis deals with individuals from both confessions who were imprisoned for their faith during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary I; by examining their writings it explores how they conceptualised and inhabited the space of the prison itself, and how they imagined this space in relation to the outside world. The thesis is comprehensive in its scope, ranging from the most famous prison writers – such as Thomas More, Thomas Wyatt, and Henry Howard, the early of Surrey – to graffitists, and those figures appealing to Thomas Cromwell for mercy in letters now held at the National Archive. This material is organised into four chapters, dealing with: 1) discourse on the inward man; 2) the range of strategies employed by prisoners to appropriate the prison as a site of writing; 3) the emotional and textual significance of prison communities; and 4) how the prisoner imagined the reception of his writings (and, implicitly, the milieu of the prison) by a readership. Together these chapters demonstrate that, through writing, prisoners not only gave meaning to their cell, but also projected a positive, industrious, and spiritual image of incarceration. In so doing, my research makes an overdue challenge to the thesis of ‘victimology’ that dominates much scholarship on the Reformation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available