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Author ORCID Identifier
Open Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Literature in English, British Isles | Renaissance Studies
This dissertation stages an unprecedented dialogue between the maritime, the literary, and the legal within the context of the English Renaissance. It positions the ocean as an essentially legal space and argues that law mediates all human-ocean interactions. Additionally, it contends that an understanding of legal conceptions of the sea is essential to developing a cultural awareness of maritime space. Therefore, my project resituates early modern literary engagements with the ocean within a complex body of legal and political discourses and argues that in an island nation such as England, knowledge of the sea was widespread. Consequently, the ubiquitous maritime references in the period’s literature were founded on real legal knowledge that literary scholars can consider in their readings of these texts. Through its synthesis of canonical literary works such as Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590, 1596) and Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion (1612, 1622) and legal texts such as William Welwood’s An Abridgement of all Sea-Lawes (1613), Alberico Gentili’s Hispanicae advocationis libri duo (1613), and John Selden’s Mare clausum (1635), this dissertation offers four case studies that illuminate the rich possibilities when maritime law inhabits the same scholarly space as English Renaissance literature.
Cotter, Hayley, ""On Neptunes Watry Realmes": Maritime Law and English Renaissance Literature" (2021). Doctoral Dissertations. 2172.
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