Journal Article

The Devil and the Debt Bill: Poverty, Theology and the Self in Rose Thurgood’s ‘a Lecture of Repentance’ (1636–37)

Naomi Baker

in Literature and Theology

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 324-340
Published in print September 2003 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online September 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/17.3.324
The Devil and the Debt Bill: Poverty, Theology and the Self in Rose Thurgood’s ‘a Lecture of Repentance’ (1636–37)

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Rose Thurgood’s ‘A Lecture of Repentance’ (1636–37) is the manuscript life account of an impoverished seventeenth-century woman who faced the threat of her own and her children’s starvation. As well as introducing this early yet largely unknown example of female autobiographical writing, I discuss the connections between theological and socio-economic frameworks raised by the text. Calvinist doctrines implied a connection between poverty and reprobation, and Thurgood’s narrative reveals the anxieties generated by such a theological climate for those in a precarious social and economic position. Through drawing on contradictory theological and biblical strands, Thurgood nevertheless ultimately inverts the theological and cultural terms of her exclusion into the basis for a positive dissident identity.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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