These Bloody Days: Prison, Treason, and the Birth of Literary Witness in the Poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt

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Harrison, Brandy
literary witness , trauma and literature , early modern poetry , courtiers , Wyatt, Thomas , early modern imprisonment , early modern treason , Henrician England
This thesis examines the life and work of Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) through the lens of the works he produced within and about his experiences of incarceration on charges of treason under Henry VIII of England (1509-1547). Through a close analysis of contemporary primary documents as well as Wyatt’s poetry, this thesis situates Wyatt’s experiences as a prisoner and writer within the historical context of the political crises of Henry VIII’s reign, exploring what Wyatt’s writing reveals about the changing conceptions of treason and the traumatic experience of imprisonment for a member of the political elite in Henrician England, while also considering how Wyatt’s writing gives rise to a new form of literary witness in the English literary tradition.
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