Abstract

Abstract:

Written against critical discussions that view Aemilia Lanyer as a social climber, this article examines how Lanyer's Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum works to forge communities by evacuating hierarchical differences between observer and observed, including the recipients of her dedicatory poems, the characters in her poem, and her readers in general. Situating Lanyer's poem alongside contemporary Passion poems of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, I show how Lanyer's adaptation of the thirteenth century Mother of Tears or stabat mater dolorosa tradition in Salve Deus highlights the misogyny of the convention's reception history and thereby reclaims the materiality of Mary and Christ as the basis for Protestant Christian community. In Lanyer's hands, Mary and Christ's suffering at Calvary provides an exemplary model through which observer and observed unify across gender, class, and even racial lines. In doing so, Lanyer's stabat mater offers a profound critique of Petrarchan beauty conventions and even salvages Petrarchanism for Christian ends. Instead of reaffirming rivalrous boundaries between self and other, Lanyer's poem establishes and proliferates a radically equitable Protestant Christian community by modeling a queerer mode of intersubjective relations as the mutual beholding and suffering shared between a stabat mater figure and Christ generates procreative tears in the reader.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0383
Print ISSN
0039-3738
Pages
pp. 365-396
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-25
Open Access
No
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