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Aziz, Jeffrey (2008) OF GRACE AND GROSS BODIES: FALSTAFF,OLDCASTLE, AND THE FIRES OF REFORM. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation recovers Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff as a politically radical character, linked to Jack Cade and the plebian revolutionaries of 2 Henry VI, and to 16th-century radical-egalitarian movements including Anabaptism and the "Family of Love." Working from the earliest texts dealing with Sir John Oldcastle, Falstaff's historical precedent, this work explores the radical potential of reform beginning with the work of the late-14th-century Oxford theologian John Wyclif. Thought to have inspired the 1381 Peasants' Rebellion, Wyclif's writings on dominion were directed at the organized church, but had social implications that Wyclif himself was unwilling to confront. Burned in 1417 for the combined crimes of heresy and treason, the historical Oldcastle either was or was not involved with an abortive rising against Henry V, and this work argues that the instability between Oldcastle as loyal Lancastrian subject and social revolutionary characterizes all subsequent representations of Oldcastle, from John Bale's prototype martyrology to Shakespeare's histories. Historically locating the appropriation of Oldcastle as the prototype Protestant martyr in a time of widespread destruction of traditional holy images, this work examines the works of the controversialists John Bale and John Foxe, with their accompanying woodcut illustrations, to argue for a continuity between the logic of reformed martyrdom and that of Protestant iconoclasm in a shared notion of ordeal and confession. In these polemical works, the testimony of the martyr on his pyre is valorized while the icon is revealed by fire or hammer to be mere matter. Working from Slavoj Žižek's claim that political identity is often founded on the fetishistic disavowal of a shared guilt, this work argues that the two parts of Henry IV, in their insistent metadramatic reminders of Oldcastle's treason and execution, function to disturb the audience's interpellation as subjects of Tudor-Protestant power. This is done in order to put the audience in the position of choosing between two modes of social life, represented by the essential kingship of Henry V on one hand, and on the other by the frightening social hybridity and radical utopianism of Falstaff.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Aziz, Jeffreyjeffaziz@pitt.eduJEFFAZIZ
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTwyning, Johntwyning@pitt.eduTWYNING
Committee MemberKnapp, Jamesknapp@fcas.pitt.eduJFKNAPP
Committee MemberGreenberg, Janellejanelleg@pitt.eduJANELLEG
Committee MemberRobertson, Kelliekrobert@pitt.eduKROBERT
Date: 18 January 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 20 August 2007
Approval Date: 18 January 2008
Submission Date: 6 December 2007
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anabaptist; Falstaff; Heresy; Iconoclasm; Lollard; Martyr; Oldcastle
Other ID:, etd-12062007-003824
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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