Donne and the Politics of Conscience in Early Modern England examines the responses of John Donne and his contemporaries to post-Reformation debate about authority and interpretation. It argues that the legal and epistemological principles, as well as the narrative practices, of casuistry provided an important resource for those caught in the welter of conflicting laws and religions.
The first two chapters explore the political, historical, and theological contexts of casuistry, locating Donne in debates about the limits of reason and the relativity of law and ethics. Chapter three addresses Donne's concern with problems of moral decision and action, of knowledge and definition, in five of his prose works. Chapter four examines ways in which his verse assimilates and wittily subverts casuists' responses to epistemological and linguistic uncertainty.
The study is particularly useful for literary critics, intellectual historians, and theologians.
Meg Lota Brown, Ph.D. (1987) in English Literature, University of California at Berkeley, is Assistant Professor of Literature at the University of Arizona. She has published articles on Donne, Rachel Speght, and Reformation history, theology, and politics.
All those of undergraduate level and above interested in literary criticism, political theory, and Church history, as well as teachers and students of literature, theologians, intellectual historians, and legal historians.