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Emulous Fellowship and the Elizabethan Pastoral Eclogue

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
“Emulous Fellowship and the Elizabethan Pastoral Eclogue” re-conceptualizes literary composition according to ideas of competition unique to early modern England. Elizabethan terms of fellowship—including copemate, emulator, and competitor—might connote positive, reciprocal relationships while simultaneously suggesting opposition, antagonism, and envy. This “emulous” language structures much of the dialogue in Elizabethan English eclogues, a verse form modelled after ancient singing shepherds and popularized by Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. My dissertation starts with the eclogue’s humble beginnings in early modern schoolrooms and finishes with its usage in elegizing Elizabeth I and in praising James I. Hence, the dissertation’s arc, loosely based on the Virgilian literary career (or rota), progresses from youth until death, and from shepherds to princes. As both canonical and lesser-known poets present “composition as competition” modelled after the eclogue’s pseudo-rustic lessons, singing contests, amorous invitations, and funeral rehearsals, they showcase unstable, competitive relationships between shepherds and between shepherd-poets. This dissertation aims to restore the eclogue, long regarded as leisurely pastoral verse associated with poetic neophytes, to its Elizabethan context: a significant literary form through which shepherd-poets, engaging their fellows as copemates, emulators, and competitors, cast poetic composition as exercises in power and hierarchy.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Werth, Tiffany Jo
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etd10458_NSzymanski.pdf 1.85 MB

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