Daniel R. Gibbons
Who will mourn with me? Who will break bread with me? Who is my neighbor? In the wake of the religious reformations of the sixteenth century, such questions called for a new approach to the communal religious rituals and verses that shaped and commemorated many of the brightest and darkest moments of English life. In England, new forms of religious writing emerged out of a deeply fractured spiritual community. Conflicts of Devotion reshapes our understanding of the role that poetry played in the re-formation of English community, and shows us that understanding both the poetics of liturgy and the liturgical character of poetry is essential to comprehending the deep shifts in English spiritual attitudes and practices that occurred during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The liturgical, communitarian perspective of Conflicts of Devotion sheds new light on neglected texts and deepens our understanding of how major writers such as Edmund Spenser, Robert Southwell, and John Donne struggled to write their way out of the spiritual and social crises of the age of the Reformation. It also sheds new light on the roles that poetry may play in negotiating—and even overcoming—religious conflict. Attention to liturgical poetics allows us to see the broad spectrum of ways in which English poets forged new forms of spiritual community out of the very language of theological division. This book will be of great interest to teachers and students of early modern poetry and of the various fields related to Reformation studies: history, politics, and theology.
“Cogent, clear, and beautifully written, Conflicts of Devotion looks at how early modern English poets and prelates negotiate the threshold of religious identity in a religiously pluralist society. Ranging from Spenser to Southwell, from Cranmer to Crashaw, this book revises our understanding of generic conventions from the pastoral to the metaphysical. While Gibbons does not eschew controversy, he focuses on the strategies of compromise: liturgy and the poetics that proceed from it accommodate diverse religious belief in the rituals that give structure to the social world. Conflicts of Devotion provides stunning close readings and sound insights into the ecumenical design of early modern English poetry.” — Kimberly Anne Coles, University of Maryland
“_Conflicts of Devotion_ is exceptionally well written and is subtly and persuasively argued, advancing scholarship in such important ways as to change our ways of thinking about the major poets of this period. It will have special value to graduate students and young academics looking for an approach to their own writing.” — Gerard Wegemer, University of Dallas
“Although Daniel Gibbons’ Conflicts of Devotion engages with the tensions suggested by his title, he incisively emphasizes the countervailing searches for spiritual unity and community. The argumentation is original and persuasive, the scholarship impeccable, and the prose elegant.” — Heather Dubrow, Fordham University