Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Erin Minear

Committee Members

Brett Wilson

Erin Webster

Nicholas S. Popper


This paper attempts to draw connections between instances when English Renaissance poets use descriptive language tinged by colonial imaginings within a popular contemporary poetic device, the Petrarchan blazon. In the process, Aidan Selmer explores new ways to read selections from Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir John Davies, and John Donne, within the context of each poet's real and fictional roles in the early imperial and colonial projects of Early Modern England. What emerges is a thoughtful, complex conversation between several influential writers who recognize the materialistic (and misogynistic) politics inherent within the blazon and other Petrarchan lyric modes, and then attempt to employ the device to interrogate the validity of colonial and imperial enterprise on the eve of England's expansion during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth-centuries. Works considered here include Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion, Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, Shakespeare's mini-epics Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece, Ralegh's Cynthia Holograms, Davies' Hymns to Astraea, and Donne's Songs and Sonets. Topics covered include Renaissance cartography and anatomy practices, the language of mercantilism and its role in Renaissance literature, and more broadly, lyric poetics descended from both Petrarchan and Ovidian traditions.

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