Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


English Language and Literature

First Advisor

Manley, Lawrence


The Renaissance had both apocalyptic and hopeful visions of the future, but both were tied into the idea of the Golden Age, a past age that could be described as perfectly fertile or hopelessly barren, as a time of plenty or of hunger. The idea of a time before agriculture was approached with ambivalence: it was at once the innocent, ideal beginning and the feared end. I argue in my dissertation, “Rough Beginnings: Imagining the Origins of Agriculture in Late Medieval and Early Modern Britain,” that stories about the invention of agriculture allowed writers of poetry, drama, history, and husbandry manuals to think through the question of what humans owed to the Earth and its peoples.