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The Rhetoric of Yorkist Political Writing during the Wars of the Roses
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This dissertation focuses on the rhetoric of political writing in late medieval England and particularly the ways in which Yorkist writers established their own form of rhetoric for political ends. I argue that Yorkist writers distanced themselves from their Lancastrian predecessors while creating their own form of political rhetoric. I identify four major aspects of Yorkist rhetorical practice. One, several Yorkist poets work within or create a “network” of textual connection through direct quotations and references to politically relevant and contemporary texts. Two, Yorkist writers, for the most part, rejected the genre of prophecy and some offered alternatives. Three, Yorkist writers worked to emphasize the role of women and their importance in England. Four, Yorkist writers highlighted the heraldic identity of noblemen. The most important of these elements of Yorkist rhetoric is their treatment of women in short poetry and their historical writing. I examine the ways in which women were included and excluded from the historical and literary record in order to advance political discourses. The texts I focus on have been neglected by modern scholars, and many have not been edited. As such, I also offer an edition of the Middle English commonplace book found within Trinity College Dublin Manuscript 432. The manuscript is a unique collection of Yorkist writing and represents a major text for those interested in Yorkist political poetry. This project helps us see the roots of our own rhetorical political practices particularly the ways in which what looks like gender inclusivity can reinforce patriarchal political constructs.
Peterson, Noah Gene (2017). The Rhetoric of Yorkist Political Writing during the Wars of the Roses. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from