Dissing Elizabeth

Negative Representations of Gloriana

Dissing Elizabeth

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 7 Published: April 1998

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Pre-Modern Studies > Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Dissing Elizabeth focuses on the criticism that cast a shadow on the otherwise celebrated reign of Elizabeth I. The essays in this politically and historically revealing book demonstrate the sheer pervasiveness and range of rhetoric against the queen, illuminating the provocative discourse of disrespect and dissent that existed over an eighty-year period, from her troubled days as a princess to the decades after her death in 1603.
As editor Julia M. Walker suggests, the breadth of dissent considered in this collection points to a dark side of the Cult of Elizabeth. Reevaluating neglected texts that had not previously been perceived as critical of the queen or worthy of critical appraisal, contributors consider dissent in a variety of forms, including artwork representing (and mocking) the queen, erotic and pornographic metaphors for Elizabeth in the popular press, sermons subtly critiquing her actions, and even the hostility encoded in her epitaph and in the placement of her tomb. Other chapters discuss gossip about Elizabeth, effigies of the queen, polemics against her marriage to the Duke of Alençon, common verbal slander, violence against emblems of her authority, and the criticism embedded in the riddles, satires, and literature of the period.


Dissing Elizabeth looks at Elizabeth’s contemporary reputation, and finds critics among artists, poets, preachers, and collectors of commonplaces.” — Christopher Haigh, English Historical Review

“This collection of eleven essays proposes to explore ‘the dark side of the cult of Elizabeth’ and to mount a new historicist challenge to ‘the canonical secondary texts in Elizabethan studies.’ ” — Simon Adams, History Today

“This extremely valuable collection of essays speaks clearly over silences imposed by the discretion of earlier scholars, mostly male, brought up to believe that one does not speak ill of a lady. . . . [T]he essayists of Dissing Elizabeth, casting off the oppressive sort of courtesy that declares a woman fragile by treating her as if she were, show the queen in all her intelligence, toughness, and political effectiveness by pointing out just whom she angered and what they did about it. The collection is also valuable in that it deals with some less than canonical but culturally important texts, such as sermons, popular verse, and with visual representations, as well as with works by well-known authors, including that famous mixed message to a maiden ruler, Spenser’s Faerie Queene. . . . This collection will certainly enrich the study of the queen’s reputation, but it will also be of interest to students of censorship and public response to governmental efforts to control access to information and freedom of speech.” — Anne Shaver, Journal of English and Germanic Philology

"This engaging and scholarly collection has uncovered numerous hitherto neglected expressions of disrespect toward the virgin queen. . . . By documenting the surprising extent of anti-Elizabethan discourse, and showing how this was invariably focused on the queen’s gender, Dissing Elizabeth provides important new insights into the ‘shadow’ side of Elizabeth’s reign." — Philippa Berry; King’s College, University of Cambridge

"Walker’s collection of often amusing and always compelling essays adds unexpected shadows to the face of England’s Gloriana; even the queen’s admirers will welcome the chiaroscuro, the greater depth and texture of the resulting portrait." — Anne Lake Prescott, Barnard College, Columbia University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Julia M. Walker is Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of Women’s Studies at SUNY at Geneseo.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: The Dark Side of the Cult of Elizabeth / Julia M. Walker 1

History and Policy

The Bad Seed: Princess Elizabeth and the Seymour Incident / Sheila Cavanagh 9

Why Did Elizabeth Not Marry? / Susan Doran 30

The Royal Image in Elizabeth Ireland / Christopher Highley 60

"We shall never have a merry world while the Queene lyveth": Gender, Monarchy, and the Power of Seditious Words / Carole Levin 77

Pamphlets and Sermons

"Soueraigne Lord of lordly Lady of this land": Elizabeth, Stubbs, and the Gaping Gvlf / Ilona Bell 99

Out of Egypt: Richard Fletcher's Sermon before Elizabeth I after the Execution of Mary Queen of Scots / Peter E. McCullough 118

The Power of the Poets

"The Image of this Queeneso quaynt": The Pornographic Blazon 1588-1608 / Hannah Betts 153

Queen Elizabeth Compiled: Henry Stanford's Private Anthology and the Question of Accountability / Marcy L. North 185

"Not as women wonted be": Spenser's Amazon Queen / Mary Villeponteaux 209

The Image of the Queen

Fair Is Fowle: Interpreting Anti-Elizabethan Composite Portariture / Rob Content 229

Bones of Contention: Posthumous Images of Elizabeth and Stuart Politics / Julia M. Walker 252

Secondary Works Cited 277

Notes on Contributors 293

Index 295
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2074-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2060-9
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