‘What Means These Tears?’: Intersections Of Grief And Gender In Early Modern England

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Betsy Lawson (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Susan Staub

Abstract: Drawing from characterizations of grieving in England during the early modern period, the thesis advances a series of examinations of literary dramatizations of grief and death. In the first chapter, the thesis presents some of the historical dynamics of the period that constructed ways of thinking about death and grief, namely, the elimination of Purgatory. The first chapter also introduces the period’s gendering of grief as feminine, and casting of the emotion as Catholic, arguing that those characterizations worked to bring grief under the same suspicion as females were. In other words, grief, like women, was typified as both virtuous and dangerous, leading to acute anxieties about interpreting and performing such an ambivalent emotion. The following two chapters examine the instances in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam, and Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, where grief is depicted in gendered terms, and actually leads to transgressions of gender and other social values due to its ambivalent nature. The thesis closes with a chapter that considers the gendered aspects of dying well according to the ars moriendi tradition, and compares the social importance of performing good grief with that of the performance of a good death.

Additional Information

Lawson, B. (2017). "‘What Means These Tears?’: Intersections Of Grief And Gender In Early Modern England." Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2017
Grief, Gender, Early Modern England, The Spanish Tragedy, The Tragedy of Mariam

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