Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Wayne Erickson - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Schmidt - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Voss - Committee Member


In his most popular prose work, Mary Magdalens Funeral Teares (1591), English Jesuit Robert Southwell adapts the Mary Magdalene tradition by incorporating the meditative practices of St. Ignatius Loyola coupled with the Petrarchan language of poetry. Thus, he creates a prose work that ministered to Catholic souls, appealed to Protestant audiences, and initiated the literature of tears in England. Southwell readapts the traditional image of Mary Magdalene for a Catholic Early Modern audience by utilizing the techniques of Jesuit meditation, which later flourished in the weeper texts of Richard Crashaw and George Herbert. His vividly imagined scenes also employ the Petrarchan and Ovidian language of longing and absence and coincide with both traditional and mystic early church writers such as Bernard and Augustine. Through this combination, Southwell’s Marie Magdalens Funeral Teares resonated with Catholics deprived of both ministry and the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. These contributions solidify Southwell’s place as a pivotal figure in the religious and literary contexts of Early Modern England.