This dissertation examines the ways in which early modern English and French fiction writers revise history by writing new, imaginative texts that allow them to recover events and figures that are at times poorly documented in historical record. These writers use fiction's forms and conventions to present rivaling images of nationhood to those of the historical sources they are drawn from. By moving away from historical sources, such as chronicle histories, these fictional texts also move away from the moralizing purposes of Renaissance histories, which are supposed to offer ideal, patriotic models, usually in the great kings and queens of the past. Instead these texts destabilize historical kings and queens as didactic models, figuratively dethroning them. For they elevate different heroes and different voices, often individuals of little or dubious importance, men and women from all ranks who would be forgotten or denied in historical genres. In so doing, they allow new voices and figures to emerge to play a role in constructing national identity through literature. This project contrasts the aristocratic images of French identity proposed by the sixteenth-century French Queen, Marguerite de Navarre, and the seventeenth-century French aristocrat, Mme de Lafayette, to the bourgeois models of English identity depicted in late Elizabethan literature by Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Thomas Nashe, and Thomas Deloney. In analyzing these fictions, this dissertation reveals fiction's important role in revising and challenging written history as well as the possibilities and constraints that fiction writers imagine for themselves and their countrywomen and countrymen in shaping themselves and their emerging nations, past, present, and future.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major: English. Advisor: Dr. John Watkins. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 184 pages.
Memory, monarchy and identity on the `Scepter'd Isle': constructing identity through historical fiction in Renaissance England and France..
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