The Politics of Images and the Languages of Politics in Later Stuart England

Harrison, Patrick Ray, Department of English, University of Virginia
Wall, Cynthia, Department of English, University of Virginia
Maus, Katharine, Department of English, University of Virginia

Title: The Politics of Images and the Languages of Politics in Later Stuart England Author: Patrick Ray Harrison Director: Cynthia Wall "The Politics of Images and the Languages of Politics in Later Stuart England" traces how traditional iconographies of order-such as the correspondences between commonwealth and cosmos, and the image of the royal body as representative of the state-lost their political capital after the civil wars. The dissertation argues that with the emergence of factionalism as a key political problem and inexorable feature of English civic life, the traditional iconography that had once helped to regulate diversity began to lose both descriptive and normative power, and was replaced by a fresh emphasis on language as the medium of political association and expression, and on individual interiority and discursive reform as essential to the containment of social conflict. This argument unfolds across four chapters. The first two chapters analyze a variety of texts and artifacts from the Interregnum: the trial and execution of Charles I, Eikon Basilike and Milton's Eikonoklastes, and the political philosophy of Hobbes and Harrington. Although Milton's trenchant critique of the richly iconographic royalist martyrology that developed after the king's execution seems to herald a change in political discourse, the political theory of Hobbes and Harrington reveal that alternative political languages still cannot articulate a stable constitutional framework without resorting to iconocentric strategies for quelling dissent. Significant changes in political discourse fully emerge only after the Restoration, and the last two chapters map the course of those changes. The third chapter considers how the visual culture of the Restoration court shocks the conscience of Pepys, Waller, and Marvell, who conclude that visible displays of the king's sexual and political power tend to weaken civil society, while a carefully guarded and rigorously self-scrutinizing inner life tends to strengthen it. The final chapter examines the importance of this interior discipline not only for the monarch but for the subject as well, by analyzing the ways in which Halifax, Locke, and Shaftesbury represent the inner life of the individual subject as consisting in a sustained dialogue among conflicting interests, a dialogue that effectively internalizes and contains those political disagreements that most threaten social stability.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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