Kalie McGuirl

Date of Award


First Advisor

Ian Bickford

Second Advisor

Brendan Mathews

Third Advisor

Jane Wanninger


Margaret Cavendish considered her books to be “paper bodies,” extensions of herself that would live on after her physical body had decayed. This metaphor suggests the uncertain link between physical form and content, representation and the represented. A confusion between the body of the author and the body of the text is highlighted by the possibility of destruction on all sides: the mortality of the body, subject as it is to disease and decay, and the delinquent nature of the text, which can be misread and corrupted. This thesis centers around the question of the book as body: how does physical medium, and the presence and/or absence of an authorial body, inform the reading of a text? Specifically, I examine textual corruption in the context of the authorial representation of two early modern poets: Katherine Philips and Margaret Cavendish. Philips and Cavendish, as contemporary Royalists writing verse during the Interregnum, provide contrary yet parallel experiences of authorship. Though corruption seems to be a perpetual threat for both Philips and Cavendish, the discourse surrounding it is ultimately revealed to be an instrumental element of each’s authorial strategy.


Ask at the Alumni Library circulation desk for the companion piece that accompanies this thesis.

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