Political Subjectivity from Religious Melancholy to Poetic Agency
Aldinger, Joseph M. M.
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"Political Subjectivity from Religious Melancholy to Poetic Agency" investigates religious loss as a politically germane topic within early modernity. I consider religious melancholy as a new strategy for imagining political possibilities in early modernity. Responding to concerns over monarchy, divided loyalty, and individual agency, this project examines liberal political concepts such as tolerance, consent, obligation, and free speech and the way that these influenced early modern conceptions of the political subject. This dissertation locates this cluster of liberal ideals in early modern poetry as the political consequences of the Reformation. "Political Subjectivity" draws upon Literary Studies, History, Psychoanalysis, Cultural Studies, Medical Studies, and Theology to suggest that a politics of loss revises understandings of the political subject in the sixteenth and seventeenth-century. In particular, this dissertation looks at religious losses such as the loss of an Edenic past in Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy , the loss of religious inheritance in John Donne's Satire III , as well as the loss of prophetic vocation and speech in John Milton's Lycidas and Reason of Church Governance . Offering a new perspective on early modern politics, melancholy, and the Reformation, this project re-evaluates post-Reformation poetics and the political subject raising questions such as: How does religious loss alter conceptions of the political subject? And, how does post-Reformation poetry reflect changing conception of individual agency?