Persistent widows : religious scripts in the illness narratives of Anne Halkett, Ann Fanshawe, and Alice Thornton
Miller, Tenyia E.
In the history of medicine "from below," religious language has been sidelined as a convention that interfered with the expression of people’s genuine experiences and feelings. This thesis uses the autobiographical writings of three well-known seventeenth-century women, Lady Anne Halkett, Lady Ann Fanshawe, and Alice Thornton, to explore how religious language actually facilitated the expression and preservation of their illness experiences. Having suffered considerable loss during the Civil War and Interregnum, these women relied on familiar religious scripts to present their life stories, including many illness experiences, as persuasive apologies for their difficult situations as widows after the Restoration. Considering their individual expressions of thanksgiving, the good death, and balance within a broader literary context reveals the extent to which each woman not only employed but also adapted convention to suit her particular purpose for writing. The women’s illness narratives must therefore be read with due attention to their religious language, and both need to be interpreted in light of how the women’s particular social situations and writing habits related to the cultural conventions of their time.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeDeutscher, Tom; Wright, Sharon; Meyers, Mark; James-Cavan, Kathleen
Copyright DateMay 2011
religion and medicine