Nursing Fathers and National Identity

Trubowitz Rachel

in Nation and Nurture in Seventeenth-Century English Literature

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199604739
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741074 | DOI:
Nursing Fathers and National Identity

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The biblical figure of “the nursing father” (Numbers 11:12 and Isaiah 49:23) is a starting point for this chapter. Organized thematically, the chapter explores how the newly evolving discourse of maternal nurture informs the construction of male political authority, royalist and anti-royalist. In Basilkon Doron, James VI/I's monarchical self-image as a “nourish father” translates reformist amalgamations of maternal nurture and national identity into royalist terms. In Eikon Basilike, Charles I depicts himself as a pious king and nurturing father to encourage his subjects’ charitable rehabilitation of his shattered royal image. Cromwell's speeches equate “the nursing father” with the new affective bonds unifying the reformed nation. In Of Education, Milton relies on the new discourse of nurture to repudiate the universities’ outmoded, authoritarian approach to learning. In Areopagitica, Milton associates nurture with both ancient Greek liberty and England's divinely inspired reformation.

Keywords: male authority; maternal nurture; memory; educational reform; tradition; authoritarianism; liberty; charity; and the new Israel

Chapter.  23789 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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