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Combining theoretically engaged analyses with historically contextualized close readings, Divine Subjection posits new ways of understanding the relations between devotional literature and early English culture. Shifting the critical discussion from a “poetics” to a “rhetoric” of devotion, Kuchar considers how a broad range of devotional and metadevotional texts in Catholic and mainstream Protestant traditions register and seek to mitigate processes of desacralization—the loss of legible commerce between heavenly and earthly orders. This shift in critical focus makes clear the extent to which early modern devotional writing engages with some of the period’s most decisive theological conflicts and metaphysical crises. Kuchar places devotional writing alongside psychoanalytical and phenomenological theories and analyzes how religious and conceptual conflicts are registered in and accommodated by the predication of sacramental conceptions of the self. Through a devotional rhetoric based on context-specific uses of linguistic excessiveness, early modern devotional writers reimagined a form of sacramental identity that was triggered by, and structured in relation to, a divine Other whose desire preceded and exceeded one’s own. Through readings of works by Robert Southwell, Richard Crashaw, John Donne, Thomas Traherne and other lesser known authors, Divine Subjection explores how writers reimagined the sacramental continuity between divine and human orders amid a range of theological and philosophical conflicts. Kuchar thus examines how rhetoric of sacramental devotion works to construct ideal religious subjects within and against the broader experience of desacralization.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Front matter
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  1. Contents
  2. p. ix
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Introduction: Devotion and Desacralization: Writing the Sacramental Subject in Early Modern England
  2. pp. 1-35
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  1. ONE. Southwell's Plaint: Subjection and the Representation of the Recusant Soul
  2. pp. 37-91
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  1. TWO. The Gendering of God and the Advent of the Subject in the Poetry of Richard Crashaw
  2. pp. 93-149
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  1. THREE. Representation and Embodiment in John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions
  2. pp. 151-179
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  1. FOUR. "Organs of thy Praise": Body, Word and Self in Thomas Traherne
  2. pp. 181-218
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  1. Conclusion: Sacramental Rhetoric in the Time of the "Wan Ghost": Excess, Subjection and Spectrality
  2. pp. 219-246
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  1. NOTES
  2. pp. 247-292
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  1. INDEX
  2. pp. 293-297
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