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Jenna Duggan Lay
Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA 18015-3027)
Catholic Englishwomen and Early Modern Book Culture

Beyond the Cloister establishes the influence--both actual and imaginative--of Catholic women on the development of English literary history. Readings of texts by authors such as William Shakespeare and John Donne reveal how Catholic women's interventions into literary and political culture have been overshadowed by misperceptions fostered in Protestant pamphlets and perpetuated in literary criticism. I offer a corrective to this tendency by investigating the relationship between canonical literature and the books and manuscripts written by nuns and recusant women, thereby challenging narratives that treat early modern English literature as the product of a distinctively Protestant sensibility. In demonstrating how female Catholicism shaped English culture after the Reformation, Beyond the Cloister suggests that literary forms and practices are essential to understanding the interplay of gender, religion, and politics in a range of historical periods and humanities disciplines.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
British Literature

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2012 – 7/31/2012