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Title: Negotiating Queenship from Malory to Shakespeare
Author: Glyn, Elizabeth L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 3116
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Queenship is a highly contested issue across the medieval and early modern periods, yet too often the subject is addressed as if those periods were discrete and distinct. In this thesis I assess certain selected literary and documentary representations of controversial queenship in the context of the history of such representations, to argue that artificial periodisation has hindered our understanding of discourses of queenship. Over time representations of idealised queenship remain consistently aware of the overarching problem of female rule. Recurring allegations of misconduct and subversion by queens suggest ongoing anxieties about female power, which are visible too in the proliferation of medieval and early modern literary defences of queens. I focus in particular on the idea of intercessory queenship, considering how this alternates with active, and in some cases even military, queenship. In so doing, I will uncover the discursive limits of autonomy for royal women. I consider a range of interconnected texts all of which use nostalgia for the past both to recreate and to question ideals of female influence. I begin by showing how Guenevere in Malory’s Morte Darthur permits a defence of Margaret of Anjou which is not couched in terms of the norms of queenly subordination. I then show how Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays manifest disquiet at Margaret’s militancy even while they create a portrait of an effective queen whose agency is entirely focussed on upholding her husband’s sovereignty. I then turn to the unexpected interchangeability of Queens Katherine and Anne in Henry VIII through which Shakespeare and Fletcher dramatise counterintuitively parallel versions of female defiance; here, queenship appears to be set free from the dominant model of intercessory influence and yet remains benign. Finally, I shall argue that disquiet at the idea of female autonomy is apparent in the return to Amazonian themes in Shakespeare’s The Two Noble Kinsmen as well as in various court masques written for Queen Anna, wife to James I.
Supervisor: McMullan, Gordon Alexander ; Salih, Maha Sarah Abdulelah Lloyd Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available