• "Free from Any Other Meaning": Truth and Politics in the Rhetoric of Elizabeth I

      Wells, Susan, 1947-; Miller, Shannon; Goldblatt, Eli; Biddick, Kathleen (Temple University. Libraries, 2009)
      Free from Any Other Meaning": Truth and Politics in the Rhetoric of Elizabeth I considers the relationship between rhetorical education and practice by examining the rhetoric of Queen Elizabeth I of England in light of dramatic shifts in rhetorical theory in Elizabethan England. This dissertation first examines rhetorical manuals of the sixteenth century, and discusses how a move from considering rhetoric as a complex relationship between knowledge, truth, and language to focusing almost exclusively on the use of figures of speech points to an anxiety over meaning and truth themselves. It then analyzes rhetorical performances of Elizabeth and her interlocutors in key debates during her reign, showing that Elizabeth drew on this anxiety about meaning and truth in order to overcome what was for her the most problematic "truth" of her reign--the doubtful authority of her status as a female prince. Tracing out two parallel narratives--the development of rhetorical theory and the development of Elizabeth's rhetorical strategy--I show finally that a series of dynamic shifts in rhetorical thought were not simply the result of pedagogical needs and intellectual currents, but responses to the problem of female rule.