Date of Degree
Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles
Early Modern, Renaissance, Emotion, Religion, Politics, Protestantism
To express joy in revolutionary England was deeply paradoxical. English Protestants frequently described the experience as indescribable, owing more to the agency of God’s grace than the subject’s will. And yet, the public expression of joy was considered a Christian duty, an important means of affirming and galvanizing community. In Revolutionary Joy: Affect, Expression, and Community in Milton’s England, I argue that the constitutive paradox of Protestant joy renders its expression a potent form of political speech amidst mid-seventeenth century transformations to the English church, monarchy, and parliament. In an era where apocalyptic expectation put pressure on affective experience as an index of prophetic capability, rejoicing becomes a crucial means whereby regenerate Protestants attempt to forge new communities on the threshold of England’s metamorphosis into a spiritual commonwealth. Advancing a historicist argument about the trajectory of spiritual joy as a Protestant form of political expression, Revolutionary Joy argues that the writings of John Milton, Andrew Marvell, and radical sectarians differently but decisively link the prophetic individual to an emerging Protestant community fulfilling providential design through the affect of joy.
Spencer, Stephen, "Revolutionary Joy: Affect, Expression, and Community in Milton's England" (2019). CUNY Academic Works.