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Transfiguring the Ineffable: Mysticism and Conversion in Seventeenth-Century England

dc.creatorWoods, Chance Brandon
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation argues that specific seventeenth-century writers appropriated the discourses of both conversion and mysticism as a strategy for self-differentiation and poetic production. Focusing on four principal figures, including Henry More (1614-1687), Richard Crashaw (1613-1649), Sir Tobie Matthew (1577-1655), and John Milton (1608-1674), the project examines how forms of conversion and mystical experience were utilized to address far-reaching cultural concerns about personal identity, revelation, and experiences of the divine. I argue that amidst a century of national anxieties about prominent magistrates changing confessional allegiance, these four poets explored the porousness of cultural and intellectual boundaries through innovative verse. Thus, far from denoting a transition from one singular identity to another, I demonstrate that conversion and mysticism could call into question fixed identity altogether and facilitate instead a liminal yet ineffable form of existence that was nonetheless intellectually fecund. Building on the scholarship of historians, literary specialists, and philosophers of religion, I develop insights first produced by the recent academic “turn to religion” to emphasize how significant the seventeenth century was in pioneering unique forms of religious expression.
dc.subjectMystical Theology
dc.subjectRenaissance Poetry
dc.subjectEarly Modern History
dc.subjectReligious History.
dc.titleTransfiguring the Ineffable: Mysticism and Conversion in Seventeenth-Century England
dc.contributor.committeeMemberPaul Lim
dc.contributor.committeeMemberWilliam Franke
dc.contributor.committeeMemberScott Juengel
dc.contributor.committeeMemberKathryn Schwarz
dc.type.materialtext University
dc.contributor.committeeChairLeah Marcus

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