English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-13-2017


Throughout its history, England and its writers have created its national identity out of thin air. Some writers such as William of Malmesbury and John Milton have consciously constructed their imagined Englands, while other authors during the medieval and early modern periods are subtler, but whose works reflect the historical and cultural moment, the fears, desires, and anxieties about kingship, tyranny, heirs, and stability, that existed during that time. Little scholarship has focused on the devil’s role in these constructions, his political nature, and how this nature is used in constructing nationalistic arguments. This devil can lead kings, nobles, and clergymen astray, resulting in devilish leadership, as seen in Malmesbury’s Gesta regum Anglorum but devils can be humans who act as devilish leaders, as seen William Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV and Macbeth. Part of the danger of human devils is that they reflect fears that the threat, the devil, could be anyone. Þe Deulis Parlement and Paradise Lost both feature actual devils, who counter the authority of God and his structures, tempt others with their demonic speech, attempt to create their own demonic structures, and incite rebellion. It is worth noting that while Chapter One focuses on threats to the nation, as does Chapter Four, Chapters Two and Three construct the demonic as the people and structures who counter the power structure and authority of the monarchy, not the collective of the people.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Anita Obermeier

Second Committee Member

Dr. Carmen Nocentelli

Third Committee Member

Dr. Yulia Ryzhik

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Jeffrey Shoulson




Devil, nationalism, England, folklore, politics

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