Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Stephen Dobranski

Second Advisor

James Hirsh

Third Advisor

Paul Voss


Closure is one of the most important putative goals for highly structured Renaissance verse. Elements of structure—for example, sophisticated prosody or the embedding of a poem within a web of intertextual relationships—determine how poets work toward closure. This project explores how verse forms and genre manifest poets’ attempts to create resolution, and, significantly, how often the challenges of the process instead become the object of focus. Developing a New Formalist approach that focuses on how literary forms are inherently responsive (both to the social conventions that inform various genres and to the expressive goals of individual authors), I examine texts in four important Renaissance poetic genres: epyllion (William Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis [1593]), satire (Joseph Hall’s Virgidemiae [1598, 1599]), religious lyric (George Herbert’s The Temple [1633]), and pastoral elegy (John Milton’s Epitaphium Damonis [1639] and Lycidas [1637, 1645]). These works illuminate some of the most significant strategies of authors who often meditate on the appeal of definitive, resolved conclusions and also on the complex ways their works become conditioned by the hope and struggle for resolution.