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Title: Violence and liminality : Spenser's and Shakespeare's contested thresholds
Author: McLelland, K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 3062
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis uses a bi theoretical perspective, historical frameworks, and textual analysis to examine interactions between violence and liminality in the work of Spenser and Shakespeare and in post-Reformation literature and culture more generally. Liminality in this context is defined as the state arising at the centre of ritual, or a threshold state, often one existing between two things more usually considered as binary oppositions. Spenser's Faerie Queene and the plays of Shakespeare provide the primary focus for this research owing to these writers' fascination with the types of metamorphosis and transformation that can happen in liminal space. Other literary and cultural texts are also analysed, most notably the sermons of the Calvinist preacher Thomas Adams. Adams' theological concerns provide useful comparisons with Spenser's and Shakespeare's work. Instances of liminality are considered under the headings of adolescence, gender, sexuality, mental state, and physical disability. The application of a bi theoretical perspective facilitates a re-evaluation of the issues of gender and sexuality raised in the first three chapters, whilst the final two chapters offer a significant contribution to the emerging field of early modern disability studies. Each of the threshold states examined was perceived as threatening violence, owing to fear and distrust of the ritualistic or the unknown. They also attracted violence as an expression of fear or as a ritualistic attempt to control the liminal space, closing down the threshold in ways that ensured the resulting individual was an acceptable member of early modern society. Furthermore, the texts examined repeatedly depict the perpetuation of the paradox between binaries as a means of producing spaces of immense power, creativity, and potential. This thesis looks at how these responses to liminality reflect the social and religious thresholds being faced in this period, and how they are connected in the Renaissance cultural landscape to the ultimate liminal space between life and death.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available