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Name: Charles Green

PhD: English Literature

Thesis Title: The Textual Self: Authorship and Agency in John Donne's Commemorative Writing


Thesis Description:

This thesis will reconsider John Donne's career, reputation and afterlife through re-evaluating the origin and impact of early modern commemorative writing – and in particular poetry – by and about him.

It will examine the influence of works like Donne’s own Anniversaries, funeral sermons, and ‘Epicedes and Obsequies’, as well as the under-studied ‘Elegies Upon the Author’, written for Donne after his death, by poets such as Henry King and Thomas Carew. In doing so, the thesis will ask how far, and in what ways, Donne became associated with commemorative genres of writing, and how his work impacted on them.

While the legacy of Izaak Walton’s famous Life of Donne has been much written about in recent years, that of the 'Epicedes and Obsequies' and ‘Elegies Upon the Author’ remains particularly unexplored. This thesis will investigate how these poems, as well as the frequently self-conscious voices in Donne’s other commemorative verse and prose, have had a parallel impact on his rich and revealing reception history.


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Dr Hugh Adlington, University of Birmingham

Dr Mary Ann Lund, University of Leicester

Professor Michael Dobson, University of Birmingham


Papers and Presentations:

  • ''Rave on words on printed page’: John Donne and the Invention of the English Poet', Abingdon School (October, 2017)

  • 'The Godly Deathbed Narrative in the Early Seventeenth Century: Performance, Print and the Polemics of Dying', Devotional Writing in Print and Manuscript in Early Modern England, 1558-1700, University of Warwick (June, 2017)

  • '‘A Tomb your Muse must to his Fame supply’: A Survey of Seventeenth-Century Commemorative Elegies, Graffiti, and Annotations on John Donne', Reception, Reputation, and Circulation in the Early Modern World, 1500-1800, National University of Ireland, Galway (March, 2017)

  • 'How Unusual are the 'Elegies upon the Author,' and What More Can They Reveal?', John Donne Society Conference, Louisiana State University (February 2017 - winner of John R. Roberts Award for best graduate essay)
  • '"And new Philosophy cals all in doubt": Reconsidering the Impact of John Donne's Anniversaries (1611/1612)', Early Modern Forum, Nottingham Trent University (July, 2016)
  • 'John Donne's Early Elegists: An Uneasy Canonization', Midlands3Cities Research Festival (May, 2016)
  • '"The death of all the Arts": Adapting Donne's Apocalyptic topoi in his posthumous Poems (1633)', EMREM Annual Symposium, University of Birmingham (May, 2016)

Ongoing Affiliations and Activities:

  • I am a Postgraduate Research Assistant with the Centre for Literary Editing and the Materiality of the Text (CLEMT)
  • I am a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of English at the University of Birmingham, teaching on the undergraduate Poetry module
  • I am part of the EMREM (Early Medieval, Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern) Forum committee, helping organise our 2016 Symposium 'Chaos and Catastrophe' and 2017 Symposium 'Powerful Objects'
  • I am part of the BJLL (Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language) editorial board and a peer reviewer for JHAC (Journal of History and Cultures) 
  • I am a tutor for the UoB Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS)

Other Research Interests:

  • The commemoration and reception of early modern writers in later periods (particularly the nineteenth century)
  • The history of English as an academic subject
  • Representations of the deathbed in early modern drama, poetry and ars moriendi literature
  • Book history



University email address:

Twitter: @charlesgreen60


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