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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Arthur F. Kinney

Second Advisor

Jane Degenhardt

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Keitel

Subject Categories

Literature in English, British Isles


To Weigh the World Anew examines moments of rhetorical exchange in romances written by Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and Mary Wroth, arguing that these texts portray formal oratory as either unethical or inefficacious, while simultaneously depicting poetic or theatrical discourses as productively intervening between interlocutors of diverse social statuses. These exemplary episodes show fiction successfully mediating between different classes and genders, creating a demarcation between poetry and competing forms of eloquence and participating in the emergence of the poetical from the rhetorical. Ultimately, the repeated depiction of poesis as an efficacious form of mediation in self-reflexive romance shows that modern conceptions of poetics partially emerge as a response to a set of rapidly changing social formations.