Project Proposal Draft
The Accessions of Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth:
Redefining Royal, Religious, and Sexual Power in History and Literature
A Field Study Proposal
A. Statement of Intent
i. In my field study project, I intend to show the lasting effects of the accessions of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I on theories of royalty, religion, and gender. I will analyze seventeenth-century plays featuring these regents to illustrate three new ideas which entered into the English imagination as a consequence of these three queens’ monarchical refashioning. The three new ideas are as follows: one of the king’s two bodies can be female; acting as a monarch is as theatrical as playing a character onstage; and kingship is created by the imagination of the people, not by brute force, gender, or lineage. By living in London, I hope to access many historical documents and sites which may not otherwise be available to me, and understand the relationships between a monarch and their people.
ii. Outside of my project, I hope to experience the diversity of the many cultures which are present in an international city like London. In light of the coming royal wedding and the celebrations which will take place, I also hope to understand how the English relate to their royalty, especially the role royalty play in popular English thought and culture. And of course, I am excited to visit the country whose literature I have studied for the past three years, and see documents and historical sites which will influence my research as an undergraduate, grad student, and professor.
iii. I am framing my project as a rhetorical analysis of the public images and self-fashioning of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. I will use close readings and interpretations of play scripts and other media to examine the myths generated by particular use of language and the arts. I will use my findings to explore the impact which these three queens had on English thought, especially their impact on views on monarchical gender, the theatrical aspect of monarchy, and the interplay between kingship and imagination.
B. Background, Significance and Literature Review
Interpreting the success of women’s royal rhetoric and self-fashioning through the reigns of Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth is currently a very active field, but most scholars get bogged down in researching the biographies of these women and miss the significant socio-political changes brought about by their conjoined influences. Furthermore, the scholars studying these women are impaired by becoming mere fact-seekers rather than social historians: although Jane might not have been as much of a martyr, or Elizabeth a virgin, as they were mythologized to be, it is these myths, rather than unknown, obscure facts of their lives, which have influenced and shaped society. On the other hand, many of the scholars studying these queens make assumptions and assertions based off well-believed and well-disguised myths, rather than reality. Because of this, it is necessary to discover the myths and realities between these monarchs, and to track the development of these myths. By studying these women together rather than separately, and by focusing on the artistic and literary myths which each queen fashioned for herself, I hope to reveal the process by which these women were transformed symbolically from unlikely queens to a Protestant martyr, a Catholic heroine, and Gloriana.
ii. Location-specific Information
With the 500th anniversary (1509-2009) of Henry VIII’s coronation and the upcoming royal wedding in April 2011, my field study could not come at a better time. These events have created a renewed interest in monarchy, monarchical ceremonies, and the Tudor monarchs. The location of my field study in London is also very important. Not only does London have almost all of the historical sites which are necessary to my project—such as Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament), St. Margaret’s Church, Greenwich Village—but it also is the hub of research, libraries, and museums in England, such as the British Library and the National Portrait Gallery.
iii. Topic-specific Information
A study of the rhetoric of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I begins with a discussion of Aristotle’s Rhetoric and his three modes of persuasion: logos, pathos, and ethos. In studying self-representation ethos is the essential mode. Ethos has been popularly and even traditionally defined as “ethical appeal” to an audience or “ethical proof”; in modern usage, many rhetoricians use ethos to mean “something like zeitgeist” (Reynolds 327). Although these definitions reveal some parts of the ancient Greek word, ethos, their meanings differ enough to call for a short etymological inquiry. In contrast to the modern definitions denoting morals and the spirit of an age, the ethos (εθοs) of ancient Greece seems to denote a specific place or society: Michael Halloran’s most accurate definition for ethos is “a habitual gathering place,” while Nedra Reynolds translates the word as “an accustomed place,” and Aristotle himself “used ethos to refer to the function of the polis” (Halloran 60, Reynolds 327-328). Thus, one’s ethos is dependent on location and society as well as one’s position within their location and society. For the purpose of my project, the term ethos will be defined as a rhetorical art of persuasion influenced by “the individual agent as well as the location or position from which that person speaks or writes” (Reynolds 326, italics mine).
This definition is especially significant for the role of ethos in the self-fashioning of royalty because it identifies two influences on the rhetoric: the individual and their role in society. The same two roles are essential in creating the character of a monarch, for as sole ruler of the realm, a monarch’s body is at the same time a physical, personal corpus and an incarnation of the entire country. This theory of royal power is best explored in Ernst H. Kantorowicz’s landmark book, The King’s Two Bodies. According to Kantorowicz, the monarch is both body natural and body politic, and the potential for the (in)separability of the two is built on centuries of English law, religion, politics, and tradition. To further muddle the concept of kingly identity, under Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, the king had two genders as well as two bodies (Herrup 496).
The interactions which create the monarch’s two bodies in many ways parallel the same process an actor completes when he plays a character onstage. During a performance, actors have both a personal body and a public body which have the same potential for (in)separability as the two bodies of a monarch. This commonality can be used for the benefit of the monarch, as was employed in Shakespeare’s propagandistic vilification of Richard III and acclamation of Henry VII, Elizabeth’s grandfather, in Richard III. However, there was also a great danger in portraying royalty in theatre: it was possible for an actor to represent a monarch so perfectly that they were too alike. In Selling the Tudor Monarchy, Kevin Sharpe explores the practice of “theatrical representation” as a potential danger to the regality of the throne because it made the hierarchy of monarchy appear fake and acted (17-18). This was truly a radical, “subversive” notion in a time period when the popular belief was that, “God ordained monarchs… as a sign of his remaining faith that a people who seemed incapable of obeying him might one day be redeemed” (Herrup 497).
But whether or not the subjects or the monarchs believed royal power was genuinely divine and royal actions divinely inspired, there is no doubt that careful rhetoric and self-fashioning was the real power behind the authority of sixteenth-century monarchy. Just the century before, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, and Richard III had all lost their monarchical powers as the results of rebellions caused by people who were obviously not convinced of these kings’ divine right to rule. Yet convincing the people of one’s divine right to rule is only a small part of what astute self-fashioning and rhetoric can do for a monarch or for any public figure. As sixteenth-century English theatre proved, representation could be powerful enough to rewrite the past, present, and future. Tudor monarchs were experts in “selling an image”; they carefully crafted their public appearances, spoke with studied language, and dressed to fulfill the expectations and imaginations of their people (Cust 201). But Tudor monarchs also attempted to control their self-imaging among other media: coins, medallions, portraits, miniatures, seals, and even dinnerware (Sharpe xii). Furthermore, they took full advantage of the burgeoning print culture and consequently the realm was flooded with various representations of the monarch.
However, as Lady Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth all recognized, once their speeches or woodcuts or miniature portraits were in the hands of their subjects, their self-representation was controlled by their subjects’ collective imaginations. The queen could not control mass opinions, but only react to their responses and build off it. Many of the myths which these queens created to further their influence and prestige among their people had more control over the queens than the queens had over them. For example, after years and years of styling herself as “The Virgin Queen,” Elizabeth had no option but to continue unmarried for the rest of her reign. The myth held so much symbolic weight that it simply could not be cast off at a whim.
Even after their deaths, there were certain myths about Lady Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth which lasted much longer than the true events which occurred during their lives. For instance, the myth of Elizabeth as “Gloriana” and Mary as the hated “Bloody Mary” has biased many historians against the possibility of Mary’s accomplishing anything positive during her reign. In the article “Mary Tudor as ‘Sole Quene’?: Gendering Tudor Monarchy,” Judith M. Richards points out that many scholars forget Mary I dealt with problems of gender as the reigning monarch years before Elizabeth I did (895). Dazzled by Elizabeth’s rhetorical prowess and political skill, they prefer to think of her talents as original and self-taught, rather than influenced in any way by her less than popular half-sister.
As we have seen in this simple example of monarchic myths, these myths have infused themselves into our culture and practices to the point that even trained historians have a difficult time distinguishing between myth and historical reality. Through the different media from the Tudor period, we have insights into how Lady Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth spoke, dressed, acted in public, treated friends and enemies, etc… or at least we have insights into what these women wanted us to believe about how they spoke, dressed, and so on.
Theatre is especially significant in providing insights into the myths/realities of these queens, for, when staged, a play incorporates all aspects of a monarch’s being and actions, not just their appearance or voice. While attending a play in which a monarch featured as a main character, the audience could see how the monarch spoke, looked, dressed, walked, danced, or whatever other actions the actor chose to portray onstage. Thus the refashioning of a monarch was intensified in theatre. In studying the reigning Tudor queens, three seventeenth-century plays particularly apply to the continuation and remaking of the queens’ myths: Thomas Heywood’s If You Know not Me, You Know No Bodie (1605), Thomas Dekker’s and John Webster’s The Famous History of Sir Thomas VVyat (1607), and John Banks’ The Innocent Usurper (1694). These three plays are especially useful to the subject of self-fashioning and myth-making for a few reasons: they were written long enough after the actual events to allow for some myth development; they were close enough to the actual events that they are still, to some extent, products of the sixteenth century.
Through close reading and interpretation of the events and people of these plays in comparison to the events and people as portrayed by history, I hope to track the origin of the myths surrounding Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, and determine, if possible, their impact on the collective English imagination. How did these monarchs actively participate and promote their own myths? How did they present their female bodies playing the role of king in such a way that was acceptable to their subjects? Did myth-making ultimately help or hinder the queens in their goals as monarchs? And finally, what new ideas entered into English thought as a direct result of these queens’ self-fashioning and myth-making?
i. Entry: I hope to find a host family through either online agencies or connections from friends. I plan on becoming familiar with the British Library and National Portrait Gallery, and using the connection I have with BYU professors who have connections in London to network with professors, historians, librarians, and other scholars in London.
ii. Informants: I am hoping to represent the Tudor Queens, both mythic and real, and I hope to learn from scholars who specialize in these areas.
iii. Sampling and Recruitment: The people I interview will be professors, historians, librarians, and any other scholars who live in the London area and specialize in Tudor England, myth, 17th-century theatre, gender, or any other aspect of my project. I hope to find my first contacts by networking with professors at BYU who have English connections, and then to work from there.
iv. Description of Method:
Conduct secondary research on Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I:
This will involve a survey of literature which focuses primarily on the factual aspects of the queens’ lives. Because my thesis focuses on the interaction between myth and fact, it is absolutely necessary to distinguish between the two. Research on the mythical aspects of the queens’ lives and legacy will be conducted later. As I conduct this secondary research, I will write short introductory histories of the queens’ lives to include in my thesis.
Conduct primary research on Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I:
Once I have collected a number of primary sources from the bibliographies of the secondary sources, I will research journal entries, royal decrees, letters of state, parliamentary documents, and any other texts which help elucidate aspects of the queens’ lives. In this part of the research, it may be hard to separate the factual queens from their mythic acting. This step may involve a visit to the British Library to see the texts firsthand. The texts I find here will also be included in writing the introductory histories to the queens’ lives.
Study the popular myths and stereotypes of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I:
In this step, I will track the historical developments of the queens’ myths. This will involve a general study of “mythistorical” texts from the 16th century to the present, but will focus more specifically on the three 17th century plays. This step may also involve a visit to the British Library to see the texts firsthand. After I complete this step, I will begin the “mythistorical” sections of my thesis.
Research current theories on mythology versus factual history:
I will read articles, books, etc. expounding these theories, and make note of how they apply to Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth. This step may involve an interview with Dr. Carole Levin, a professor of history and a leading scholar of women in the English Renaissance, representations of women, and the role of imagination/myth in history. This step will help further complete the “mythistorical” sections of my thesis.
Conduct a textual analysis of the plays and compare their mythical representations of the queens to the factual queens:
This will involve an in-depth study of the literary aspects of the plays. Each play’s study will then become a section of the thesis. This research, in conjunction with all the other research, will also become the conclusion to my thesis.
D. Ethics and Approval
In interviewing professors, historians, and perhaps other scholars on topics regarding my project, I will maximize benefits and minimize risks by only asking about historical or literary subjects, and not posing any personal questions. Any personal opinions or private information which may happen during the course of an interview will not be shared within my project. I will use email or other means to contact these scholars and ask for an interview, but if they would not like to be interviewed, I will not contact them again. I plan to practice appropriate reciprocity with my host family by paying for my own meals and whatever portion of the rent they deem necessary for me to pay.
Note: To prevent accusations of plagiarism, it is necessary for me to record the names of the scholars I interview. Again, I will not be including any other sensitive information about them, only their viewpoints in regard to Tudor England, myth, gender, and other areas of my topic.
E. Preliminary Plans for Post-field Application
The paper I intend to write to present my research will also function as my Honors thesis. I plan on presenting chapters or a condensed version of my thesis at The Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, hosted by Moravian College in Pennsylvania. I also plan on publishing a chapter in one of the English Department’s undergraduate journals, Criterion or Literature and Belief. Further in the future, I hope to use the information and skills which I will learn on the field study to aid my research in masters and P.h.D. programs.
F. Qualifications of the Investigator
In my previous two years attending BYU, I’ve focused my studies primarily on 16th and 17th English literature. I have taken English 382 and Honors 303R, both Shakespeare classes which discussed Elizabethan culture in great depth. I have taken English 236, 291, 372, all of which primarily studied 16th century England, or at least had large units devoted to this period. My experiences in English 495 and 385, classes which studied the period just after Elizabeth, have helped me to understand some of Jane’s, Mary’s, and Elizabeth’s earlier impacts on English culture. I took WS 222 specifically to understand feminist rhetoric so I could better analyze these three English queens, and English 251, 451, and 311 have prepared me to critically assess primary and secondary sources. I have also used term paper assignments from WS 222, English 372, and English 495 to write in-depth papers about Jane, Mary, and Elizabeth, which I hope to turn into thesis chapters.
Furthermore, I’ve had experience in research and attending conferences. From June 2009 to June 2010, I worked as a research assistant, exploring medieval and renaissance European texts. I researched such areas as religious symbolism, biblical history, representations of Julius Caesar, medieval Irish poetry, and 16th century poetical theory, among many other subjects. As part of this job, I was also able to attend the Margaret Cavendish Society Conference in July 2009 and listen to the newest scholarship on 17th century English literature, which was very much affected by the monarchs of the previous century. Finally, I attended the Hawaii International Conference for the Arts and Humanities last January and presented a paper on 16th century English culture and its role in Shakespeare’s Othello.
My limitations in this project are my inexperience with London culture, as well as with big city culture in general. I hope that by contacting native Londoners/friends who currently live in London before my field study, I will be able to prepare myself as best as possible. I am also planning on living with a host family while in London, which will hopefully help me become better accommodated to the culture.
G. Qualifications of the Faculty Advisor
Dr. Brandie Siegfried has published extensively on sixteenth and seventeenth century women writers, and is president-elect of the Queen Elizabeth I Society. She teaches courses in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature. Her special interests include Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, early modern women writers, gender studies, and Irish literary history. She also has an interest in film, and often teaches an Honors course called Film Adaptations of Shakespeare.
Dr. Siegfried tends to take a cultural studies approach to literature, often providing interdisciplinary perspectives from ethnography, history, science, and art as lenses through which to read Renaissance texts. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from Brigham Young University, an M.A. in Women's Studies from Brandeis University, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature, also from Brandeis University. She joined the BYU English Department in 1993.
H. Justification of Infield Coursework and Faculty
During the Spring and Summer 2011 terms, I will take English 490R, English 480R, and either English 391 or 396. English 490R is a course for “English majors working with full-time faculty members in the English Department on readings that cannot be obtained in a regularly scheduled course.” I am planning on taking this course under the direction of Prof. Rick Duerden, and the readings which I will study (as referenced in the course description) will be primarily the three plays which I am analyzing for my project, as well as any other primary texts that assist in my research. English 480R is a course for students working with faculty members on research projects, such as ORCA grants, Honors Theses, and even field studies. I will be taking this course under the direction of Prof. Brandie Siegfried, and this course will focus on my project as a whole. For the last three hours of credit, I plan on taking either English 391: Women in Literature, which will enhance my study of gender in regards to Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I and their roles in literature; or I will take English 396: Introduction to Folklore, taught by Deidre Paulsen, which will introduce me to current scholarship and ideas about myth and its influence in literature.
Jan 15 2011 Apply for the Robert K. Thomas Scholarship
Winter 2011 Write thesis draft
Spr/Sum 2011 Meet online twice weekly with Prof. Siegfried
April 27 2011 Leave for Field Study in England to complete research at libraries, museums, and various historic sites
June 15 2011 Second Draft of Thesis
July 30 2011 Third Draft of Thesis
August 3 2011 Return from Field Study in England
Oct 1 2011 Submit abstract to Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Nov 15 2011 Complete copy of thesis to Prof. Siegfried
Dec 15 2011 Final Field Study Paper submitted
Dec 31 2011 ORCA Final Report Due
Jan 2012 Submit chapter to Criterion and Literature and Belief
Jan 15 2012 Submit polished copy of thesis
Mar 1 2012 Complete thesis defense
Mar 8 2012 Submit four copies of thesis on bond paper for binding
ISP expenses 275.00
Passport fees 135.00
Airplane ticket 1,120.00
Room (estimate) 2,000.00
Board (estimate) 600.00
Travel (estimate) 200.00
What were the lasting effects of the accessions of Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, and Elizabeth I on English theories of royalty, religion, and gender, and how were these effects portrayed through theatre, literature, etc.?
1. How does the British Library work?
2. How do British/English views of monarchy differ from other countries?
3. How has the idea of monarchy changed in Britain?
4. How has respect for the monarchy changed?
5. How are dukes, duchesses, lords, etc. treated by the public and the monarchy?
6. Is it possible to physically handle primary texts at the British Library?
7. What kind of architecture was popular in Tudor England?
8. How are Tudors seen by modern Brits?
9. What are the steps of the coronation ceremony?
10. Where does the coronation ceremony take place?
11. Has anything about the coronation ceremony changed since the 16th century?
12. How do British/English people tend to treat unpopular monarchs?
13. How did Elizabeth, Mary, and Lady Jane Grey run their households prior to queenship?
14. What was typically worn to one's own coronation ceremony?
15. What events typically happened between the death/deposition of the old monarch and the coronation of the new?
16. How did the myth (Lane Letters) behind Lady Jane and Dudley begin?
17. Who wanted Elizabeth to be queen?
18. What public speeches/appearances were made by these women during their accessions?
19. How did they "train" for queenship?
20. When, where, and by whom were the three plays performed?
21. What kind of clothing did the queens wear?
22. What are the biographies of the playwrights?
23. How were the queens portrayed in the plays?
24. How did the queens officially claim the throne?
25. How did they quell (or at least, attempt to quell) rebellions?