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Disciplinde With Holesome Reede: Edmund Spenser, Robert Burton, and the Profits of Reading

Prendergast, Luke Sonny Velji; (2020) Disciplinde With Holesome Reede: Edmund Spenser, Robert Burton, and the Profits of Reading. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Disciplinde with Holesome Reede: Edmund Spenser, Robert Burton, and the Profits of Reading offers an extended comparative reading of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590-96) and Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621-50), taking as its cue these texts’ shared claims to bibliotherapeutic possibilities: that Spenser’s is intended to ‘fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline’, and that Burton hopes his writings will ‘medicinally worke upon the whole body [... and] not only recreate, but rectify the minde’. Reading these claims in light of medical, philosophical, and theological contexts, I explore how Spenser and Burton conceptualise the potentially profitable (and, conversely, pernicious) possibilities of reading in medicinal, economic, and recreative terms. Central to the thesis is the idea that such claims to reformative efficacy depend on the authors’ shaping and inculcation of certain kinds of readerly habits, and that, correlating to the contiguous nature of world and text, the fashioning of a reader constitutes the fashioning of an ethical and healthy subject: in short, the thesis follows early modern thought in eliding the hermeneutic and the therapeutic. As such, the thesis will throughout explore how both The Faerie Queene and the Anatomy encode, challenge, and frustrate their own interpretive practices. Shaping a readership trained in careful attention and profound memory constitutes the work of reading that is both laborious and edifying. At the same time, whilst celebrating each work’s complex particularity, the thesis demonstrates how comparative work on texts rarely – and only ever fleetingly – drawn into conversation might shed new light on the ways in which intellectual traditions span and develop across form, genre, and period.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Disciplinde With Holesome Reede: Edmund Spenser, Robert Burton, and the Profits of Reading
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10118095
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