The construction and use of gender in the pamphlet literature of the English Civil War, 1642-1646


Cobley, Jennifer Francis (2010) The construction and use of gender in the pamphlet literature of the English Civil War, 1642-1646. University of Southampton, School of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis , 262pp.

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Description/Abstract

This thesis examines how the authors of ephemeral print used the gender framework for political ends during the first Civil War. In particular it considers how both the royalist and parliamentarian pamphleteers constructed and promoted a hegemonic, patriarchal definition of manhood amongst their male supporters in order to encourage them to fight for either king or parliament. It also demonstrates how the pamphleteers of each party drew upon deep-seated cultural allusions and a pre-existing language of insult in order to claim that their enemies were ‘unmanly’ or ‘effeminate’ and therefore unable or unwilling to uphold the patriarchal social order. The thesis shows that the pamphleteers of both sides set out to demonstrate that their own men were exemplars of patriarchal manhood, while simultaneously claiming that the anti-patriarchal behaviour of their opponents had betrayed their unsuitability for a position of authority within the commonwealth. Gendered language was therefore a powerful way to legitimise the claim of one’s own side to patriarchal authority and political power while simultaneously delegitimizing the claim of one’s opponents.

The introduction outlines the key questions which the thesis seeks to address and gives my reasons for undertaking this study. Chapter one examines the reluctance of past generations of historians to study the wartime tracts and highlights the importance of the new cultural history, gender studies and the linguistic turn in bringing the gendered language of the wartime tracts to academic attention. Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the print culture of the Civil Wars. In particular, the pioneering work of David Underdown has led other historians to explore how the wartime pamphleteers made use of cultural references in order to communicate political ideas. Chapter one situates my thesis within these recent developments in scholarship. Chapter two considers the main gendered themes of the parliamentarian tracts during the first Civil War. It explores how and why manhood was constructed and how gendered insult was utilised by the pamphleteers. Chapter three focuses on how three principal royalist personalities were represented in parliamentarian tracts, namely Charles I, Queen Henrietta Maria and Prince Rupert. Chapter four considers the broader gendered themes within the royalist literature of the period and tests the assertions of previous historians that royalist propaganda was frequently elitist and self-defeating. Chapter five explores the royalists’ treatment of three key parliamentarian figures: Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, Sir William Waller and Lady Ann Waller. It explores the careful treatment that Essex initially received from the royalist polemicists and contrasts this with the increasingly barbed attacks that were made against Waller, particularly by commenting upon the actions of his wife, Ann. The conclusion summarises the key arguments of the thesis and relates my findings to other broader questions regarding the operation and contestation of patriarchal power during the conflict, the practice of printing and how the use of gendered language developed in the polemical works of the later 1640s. The thesis ends with a brief discussion of some areas in which further research might enable us to better understand the vital role that gender played in reinforcing authority during the turbulent 1640s.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities
ePrint ID: 169833
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2010 14:37
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2014 22:29
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/169833

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