Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Abstract

This dissertation traces scenes of Christian-Muslim conversion across representative works by William Shakespeare, Robert Daborne, Philip Massinger, and Richard Brome to examine how the popular drama of the early seventeenth century participates in English political and ecclesiastical discourses about the meaning of interfaith conversion and its stakes for the construction and stability of late-Reformation English national identity. I argue that the structural and stylistic changes that define each drama’s distinct presentation of interfaith conversion may be understood as engaged in the still-evolving debates over the Church of England’s sacramental theology and ceremonial practices—the very ritual actions that could render the meaning of conversion legible for a community—in light of simultaneously-shifting English relations with the Ottoman Turks and the independent Islamic states of North Africa. In complicating traditional readings of both the trajectory of Anglican reform and patterns of English interaction with Islamic North Africa and the Levant, this dissertation challenges popular critical readings of these plays that maintain the absolute and irredeemable alterity of the “other.” Instead, these texts’ images of conversion reveal a far greater range of responses to interreligious encounter than a simple opposition of “us” and “them.” Ultimately, these texts serve less to vilify Muslims in moments of heightened international tension than to highlight the stakes inherent in changes to English theology and ecclesiology for responding to the conversion of English Christians.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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