Poetry, prayer, and pedagogy: writings by and for the English Catholic community, 1547-1650
Garcia, Patricia Marie
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This study examines the role of religious poetry and pedagogy in maintaining the English Catholic community during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. English Catholics faced legal sanctions, social isolation, and physical harm for practicing their faith, and the Catholic church began a campaign to maintain, educate, and minister to the community covertly through the use of Jesuit missionaries and published pedagogical texts. The influence of such experiences can be seen in the literary works of John Donne, Robert Southwell, Richard Crashaw, and Elizabeth Cary, as well as in the instructional works by lesser-known Catholic writers including John Fowler, Thomas Wright, John Bucke, Henry Garnet, Gaspar Loarte, John Mush, Jeanne de Cambray, and Agnes More. These texts also show a stylistic influence upon one another wherein pedagogical texts utilize poetic language, and poetic texts instruct the reader in religious practice through modeling and example. Through a careful reading of these works, I examine the early modern literary landscape of England in its Catholic context. Finally, I argue that the question of Protestant/Catholic identity led to the development of a religious poetics that emphasized the role of the individual within this crisis and, more importantly, in his or her relationship with God.