Text and context : a re-evaluation of Anne Locke's Meditation

Waudby, June

September 2006

Thesis or dissertation

© 2006 June Waudby. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

[Prefatory notice]:
My initial response to Anne Locke's volume was very much influenced by the critical perspectives of feminist literary scholars of the 90s; in Kate Chedgzoy's terms, Locke's gender was 'the crucial aspect of the text's interest'. For this reason my early research was very much in the spirit of the Anglo-American feminist endeavour to reclaim forgotten female authorship of the early modern period. Within the first six months, however, I needed to reassess my own preoccupations with gender, as it became obvious that the study would require far greater engagement with the historical and theological contexts of Locke's life and her volume's production than I had anticipated. Moreover, as my investigations gathered insight, it became obvious that no matter how much I wished to attach pre-conceived concepts of early-modern women's subjection, passivity or 'proto-feminism' to Locke's work, they would not stick. Or if they did, did so in surprising fashion. In fact, the labels became more compromised than the subject, which seemed to indicate that both of us would be better off without them.

Consequently, although the groundwork of the critics of the nineties was of great value at that time, I have not chosen to tread in their footsteps, but rather used their work as a stepping stone. For this reason there is not a great deal of discussion about the patriarchal subjection of women or their compromised spheres of activity in this work; other writers have already explored this field.

The study aims, rather, to re-immerse Locke and her early work within their own distinctive contexts. Locke's first volume, Sermons of John Calvin., was written during the reign of Mary I, during her own voluntary exile in Geneva. An appreciation of the circumstances of the work's production is fundamental to its evaluation, this study is, therefore concerned with the very precise historical moment of Locke's entry into print. For this reason, since her later translation of Taffin' s Of the markes of the children of God. was composed under the very different circumstances of a Protestant state religion, the thesis focuses upon her first publication.

Throughout the thesis the use of the term 'Puritan' has been avoided in reference to Anne Locke and her co-religionists, as properly belonging to the later sixteenth century. As Patrick Collinson writes, the people themselves preferred the epithet 'the godIy',2 although in their own time they were often labelled 'Lollards' or 'Lutherans'. Similarly, the appellation 'Protestant' was originally used as a condemnatory term for the German protesters against the Diet of Speyer (1529). This aimed to re-establish Catholicism by outlawing the Lutheran states' interpretation of the 1526 Diet's pronouncement that 'the word of God should be preached without disturbance', which they had chosen to understand as a legal right to introduce evangelical practices.3 In referring to the early English Protestants the term 'reformed' is used as indicating the new Protestant faith, distinct from both the established state religion of Henry VIII and Mary I's Catholicism.

On a textual note, the transcriptions from primary quotations are regularised to the form of modern orthography in u/v and i/j substitution and the expansion and lowering of abbreviations and superscripted letters.

Department of English, The University of Hull
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