Date of Degree

2-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Comparative Literature

Advisor(s)

Monica Calabritto

André Aciman

Committee Members

André Aciman

Clare Carroll

Richard C. McCoy

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature

Keywords

Language, Literature and Linguistics, Metamorphosis, Early Modern Literature, Judaic Studies, William Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, Uriel da Costa

Abstract

Interfictional Identities develops the concept of interfictional transformations. In these transformations, characters in early modern texts adopt new identities rooted in previous literature. Specifically, Interfictional Identities explores how four early modern moments of interfictional transformation—of Nick Bottom in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, of Pyrocles in Sidney’s New Arcadia, of Uriel da Costa in A Specimen of Human Life, and of Don Quixote in Cervantes’ novel—produce both literary and literal hybridity. One wonders why, in these works, writers and playwrights such as Shakespeare, Sidney, Da Costa, and Cervantes favor interfictional transformations over mere allusions to classical literature, or, for that matter, disguises that do not allude to previous literature. A time of religious and ideological crisis, the early modern period called for dissimulation and self-fashioning in order to conceal one’s true beliefs and identity. Interfictional Identities explores how interfictional transformations encourage a confrontation with “the other within.” Though scholars have studied early modern transformations and hybridity as representations of national and cultural encounters with “the other,” little has been written on intertextual transformations as images of dissimulation and as representations of the necessity to negotiate identity during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. The nonhuman-human hybrid, the cross-dresser, the converso, and the madman become distinctive literary images of the period, representing the fear of confronting the unfamiliar-familiar other. Taken together, these transformation narratives reflect the social anxiety of dissimulation, through which early modern readers and audiences encounter their own radically hybrid identities.

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