Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Johnson, William C. (William Carl), 1937-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Herbert; George; 1593-1633--Influence; Emerson; Ralph Waldo; 1803-1882--Criticism and interpretation; Thoreau; Henry David; 1817-1862--Criticism and interpretation; Fuller; Margaret; 1810-1850--Criticism and interpretation


Reception and influence, theoretical offshoots of the New Historicism paradigm, have often been employed in literary analyses, but intertextuality issues traversing both time and space have remained largely undiscussed and rarely particularized. This study follows the chronological development of George Herbert's reputation across the Atlantic and across the eighteenth century into antebellum America. Dovetailing Herbert's seventeenth-century reputation with the influence it had on Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller Ossoli (Fuller), this study considers the implications of “re-presenting” that influence, as Emerson did when he employed a truncated version of Herbert's “Man” in his germinal and now classic Nature. A comparative study approach was used to assess previously published allusions to Herbert in seventeenth-century English works and allusions to him gathered from the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller for the purpose of this study. The objectives of the study were (1) to document the textual history of The Temple, with emphasis on how various editions of an author's work shape our understanding of literature, and (2) to analyze the relationship between Herbert's contemporaneous reputation as a religious poet and his reputation in the age of Transcendentalism. Overall, this study found no difference in Herbert's seventeenth-century reputation and his reputation in the age of Transcendentalism. For both groups, Herbert is a poet who communicates universal qualities of piety, love, truth, and sincerity. Both groups feel themselves in need of a model for how to live, and, for both groups, Herbert exemplifies such a model. However, the Transcendentalists are not content to simply adapt Herbert to their needs, but also seek to discover his American counterpart. The implication of this to 21st-century literary scholarship is that George Herbert's poetry remains viable because it communicates universal qualities of piety, love, truth, and sincerity. For some, these properties are a true statement of the poetry's religious theme, but for others, these qualities transcend that theme. Such poetry is malleable, and, as the needs of each age evolve, The Temple allows its readers to see in it not only what they want to see but also what they need to see.


Includes bibliographical references.


xiv, 238 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type