Illegitimacy and the National Family in Early Modern England  book cover
1st Edition

Illegitimacy and the National Family in Early Modern England

ISBN 9780367878979
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
206 Pages

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Book Description

This study considers the figure of the bastard in the context of analogies of the family and the state in early modern England. The trope of illegitimacy, more than being simply a narrative or character-driven issue, is a vital component in the evolving construction and representation of British national identity in prose and drama of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. Through close reading of a range of plays and prose texts, the book offers readers new insight into the semiotics of bastardy and concepts of national identity in early modern England, and reflects on contemporary issues of citizenship and identity. The author examines play texts of the period including Bale's King Johan, Peele's The Troublesome Reign of John, and Shakespeare's King John, Richard II, and King Lear in the context of a selection of legal, religious, and polemical texts. In so doing, she illuminates the extent to which the figure of the bastard and, more generally the trope of illegitimacy, existed as a distinct discourse within the wider discursive framework of family and nation.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents.


Chapter 1: ‘Now attest that those whom you call’d fathers did beget you’

Chapter 2: ‘Give Grandam Kingdom’: King John

Chapter 3: ‘Gelded of his patrimony’: Richard II

Chapter 4: ‘Gave you kingdom: called you children’: King Lear



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Helen Vella Bonavita is Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University, Australia.