Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



“The Poetics of Religious Toleration in Revolutionary England” asks what toleration meant and how it was expressed and experienced by writers and readers in seventeenth-century England. My aim in exploring this deeply contested theological and political concept and practice is to discover both its character in early modernity and its long-lasting consequences for our world. I draw on poetry, theater, satire, and polemic—the writings of Ben Jonson, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, Lucy Hutchison, and John Dryden—to argue that the movements of authors and readers between and among confessional positions created and sustained the experience and practice of the begrudging forbearance that was at the very center of early modern toleration and its aesthetic. Forbearance did not require tolerant readers, listeners, playgoers, not even tolerant authors. Yet in the theaters, dining rooms, bedchambers, pulpits, and print shops of revolutionary England, the concept and practice of forbearance emerged in and from a poetics of toleration and enabled life in plurality, a flourishing early form of what we now call pluralism.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Steven N. Zwicker

Committee Members

Kathleen Lynch, Joseph Loewenstein, Wolfram Schmidgen, Mark Valeri,

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