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Self-Fashioning in John Donne

Abstract : This study is an attempt to examine the structure of self fashioning― i.e., the conscious construction of the self―as evidenced in the famous literary figure of the English Renaissance; John Donne (1572-1631), and to find that in the early modern period, new questions surrounding the nature of identity heavily influenced the literature of the era. Stephen Greenblatt’s definition and first three conditions of renaissance self-fashioning are taken as the framework of the article in order to be exemplified on John Donne. The conditions can be summarized as the low hierarchal status of the poet, leading him to fashion himself and gain a position in the society through submission to authorities, and the process of selfhood via taking an ‘other’ to be able to differentiate himself from that ‘other’ by its exploration. By showing John Donne of no important hierarchical status before gaining the preferment of higher classes and patrons, and before proving his submission to authorities as varied as God, church and court―whether by his friendship to them and writing occasional verses, or by mentioning them in his works to make his own identity stronger―the paper accords John Donne to the first two interrelated conditions of Greenblatt’s. Donne’s obscure and contradictory style is also dealt with in the study as his way of self-fashioning through restriction of the audience. For the third condition, the paper examines the ‘others’ Donne has portrayed in his works in order to shape his own identity by exploring them. These ‘others’ are related to colonialist ideological and scientific discourses of Donne’s time and range from exploration of outer space by the help of astronomical inventions, ―constructing Donne’s identity as a knowledgeable man―to the exploration of other lands characterized through women leading Donne to gain a sense of mastery over them and fashion his selfhood stronger. In conclusion, the study suggests such self-fashioning as necessary and inevitable for a man of Donne’s position in Renaissance period.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02521189
Contributor : Shafigheh Keivan <>
Submitted on : Friday, March 27, 2020 - 11:59:23 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 11:14:02 PM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02521189, version 1

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Shafiqeh Keivan. Self-Fashioning in John Donne. National Conference on Teaching English Literature and translation, Kharazmi, 2013, Shiraz, Iran. ⟨halshs-02521189⟩

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