Appropriating James VI and I
: reading the King of Scotland/England from the 16th to the 21st century

  • Ruth Abraham

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This study undertakes an examination of the appropriations of King James VI and I, early modern King of Scotland and England, considering how the monarch represents himself in his literature in tandem with how subsequent authors have appropriated James across time and media. To that end, this thesis has been divided into two parts. Drawing upon ideas of self-fashioning, Part One examines the development of James' literary personae. Chapter One addressed the construction of James as poet-king, assessing the degree to which his poetical enterprises are inflected by national and political concerns. Chapter Two turns to James' political literature in order to evaluate James' shifting methodologies of representation within his later prose. This chapter also investigates the degree to which James' earlier literary habits reappear within his political discourse. Part Two offers an exploration of Jamesian appropriation from his reign until the twenty-first century. Chapter Three discusses representations of James created through the adaptation of the King's texts and of his linguistic patterns. Over the course of James' reign a myth-making process occurs, creating various verbal and visual images that become synonymous with James' name. These connections are repeated in the commemorations offered at the King's death. Chapter Four begins by examining these mourning celebrations, tracking the general decline of the Jamesian image over the remainder of the seventeenth century. Although James appears to have been forgotten in the majority of the eighteenth century, the French Revolution triggers a nostalgic glance to the Stuart King. Chapter Five, therefore, considers the trajectory of Jamesian appropriation in the Romantic and Victorian periods. Finally, Chapter six assesses the degree to which the twentieth and twenty-first centuries witness the evolution of James into a disembodied sign valued less for its historical existence, and more for its currency as a literary device aiding cultural commentary.
    Date of AwardDec 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast

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