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Katherine Clover Little
Fordham University (Bronx, NY 10458-9993)
The Emergence of the Pastoral Mode in 16th-Century English Poetry

This project offers a new literary history of the pastoral mode in England, one that understands the emergence of pastoral in the sixteenth century as a deliberate response to a medieval poetry of rural labor. It takes as its focus the first writers of eclogues, Alexander Barclay, Barnabe Googe, and Edmund Spenser, and argues that their attempts to write a new, Virgilian shepherd in the pastoral mode are hanted by the medieval rural laborer and the religious reformism with which he was associated: the shepherd-priests of the ecclesiastical pastoral and the plowmen of William Langland's Piers Plowman and the Piers Plowman tradition. Early pastoral thus demonstrates a struggle over the significance of labor: should the shepherd invoke "otium" [leisure] or the reformist value of rural labor, a value inherited from the medieval tradition? In claiming medieval poetry as another past for pastoral, this project challenges the boundary between the medieval and early modern.

Project fields:
British Literature

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2009 – 12/31/2009