Theses Doctoral

The Pastoral Field: Local Ecologies in Early Modern Literature

McIntosh, Elizabeth Katherine

“The Pastoral Field: Local Ecologies in Early Modern Literature” excavates the ways in which pastoral literature registers the role nature-human interaction played in shaping protracted struggles over land use and ownership, and in the degradation and improvement of natural landscapes. Revising a longstanding critical tradition that understands early modern pastoral as primarily allegorical, the project instead insists that the form can also accommodate topical thinking about regional ecologies. Shifting the emphasis away from the Elizabethan court towards local agricultural politics, it unearths the ways in which natural crises such as flooding, famine, sheep rot, and soil degradation hastened processes of agricultural improvement and enclosure—and how those processes were in turn mediated, counter-factually imagined, and actively promoted within the literary devices of pastoral. Each of my four chapters locates pastoral plays, poems, romances, and country-house entertainments in the particular landscapes that shaped their development— landscapes that were, in turn, reconfigured by the literary and political concerns of Elizabethan authors.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Howard, Jean E.
Crawford, Julie A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 28, 2021