Writing Renaissance Queens: Texts by and about Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

Writing Renaissance Queens: Texts by and about Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

Writing Renaissance Queens: Texts by and about Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

Writing Renaissance Queens: Texts by and about Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots

Synopsis

Hopkins (English, Sheffield Hallam U., the UK), who writes with refreshing verve and enthusiasm, delves with intimate familiarity into texts by and about Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots to show how these queens were imagined, how they stood in relation to their male counterparts, and how they themselves constructed their particular royal identities. Much of the analysis mines the rich stories and characters of Spenser's and Shakespeare's plays. Distributed by Associated University Presses. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

This book examines writing both by and about Renaissance women rulers. Both Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots produced a substantial body of poetry and letters; the former also translated, when a young girl, the Miroir de l'âme pecheresse of another queen, Marguerite of Navarre. Elizabeth was a highly intelligent and highly educated woman who, in her writing as in her speeches, used her training in rhetoric to clever and calculated effect; Mary had been personally tutored by members of the Pleiade at the French court. As a result, the works of both are well worth reading and richly repay literary analysis of the kind I offer here.

Women rulers of the Renaissance period were not left alone to tell their own stories, however; their hotly contested status as obvious anomalies in a generally male-dominated world meant that many other authors were equally eager to offer imagings and analyses of what it meant to be a Renaissance queen. As well as detailing the situations of women rulers in general and analyzing their own literary productions, therefore, I have also explored how these women were in turn figured in male-authored writings, both the polemical (and largely ephemeral) treatises on the question of female rule which were prompted by the sudden explosion of women rulers and those which have become the canonical literary representations of their culture. In the first section, “Writing Renaissance Queens,” I have therefore analyzed imagings of queenship over a wide-ranging period, beginning with the tracts of writers such as John Knox in Scotland and François Hotman in France and moving on to Spenser's detailed and developed examination of the question in The Faerie Queene. In the second section, “Queens' Self-Representations,” I have examined the writings of Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, and situated them within the context of the earlier work of Marguerite of Navarre. In the third, “Staging the Queen,” I begin with the early, anonymous play Arden of Faversham, and show how the ostensibly purely bourgeois world depicted by the play is qualified . . .

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