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Donne's narrative of space: geographical, astronomical and spatial dimensions of John Donne's poetry

Author Kader HEGEDÜS
Director of thesis Dr. Kirsten Stirling
Co-director of thesis
Summary of thesis

This doctoral project will focus on Donne’s spatial imageries and concepts in his poetry, the processes of perception that they imply for Renaissance and contemporary readers – in other words how they invite a (re)cognition of particular fields of human experience that seem at first sight unrelated to the topic of the poem – as well as the overlaps between these “real” and “imagined” spaces.


Involved in the court and the Church, and well versed in the discoveries of his times, the poet seems to have acknowledged and addressed the sudden physical and representational remodeling of the world that took place during his lifetime. The Reformation implied a new geography of faith; explorations and Imperialism redefined what had been until then well-established frontiers. The political court was clearly marked in contrast with other areas of the urban and rural life in terms of places but also in terms personal and professional trajectories. Scientific discoveries distorted the shape and size of the known cosmos and, amidst those upheavals, the desire of individuals to confine themselves to private spheres or more intimate communities became increasingly significant. In a context in which territorial and ideological fragmentation is more common than cohesion, Donne’s tendency to exploit and reshape space in – and for the sake of – his poetical discourse might thus be indicative of a predisposition, during the early modern period, to spatially recognize, address and find solution to the problems of mankind.


This dissertation will attempt to show how the “imagined” spaces created in Donne’s work respond to and are symptomatic of those “new spaces” of Renaissance existence. The doctoral project will thus include an analysis of the gendered spaces allocated to men and women in love in the Songs and Sonnets and the Elegies, and the overlap of these intimate private spaces into the spaces of business, politics, diplomacy and of the court. This analysis of public space extends to perceptions of “nation” and “territory”, reimagined and renegotiated in the Renaissance rebuilding of space and the context of imperial expansion. A final section will move towards a consideration of space in Donne’s religious poetry and the implications of the fragmented geographies of the Reformation in Donne’s construction of a devotional poetics.

Administrative delay for the defence
URL https://applicationspub.unil.ch/interpub/noauth/php/Un/UnPers.php?PerNum=1056395