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The Sacred and the Secular in John Donne

In Literature and Sacrament: The Sacred and the Secular in John Donne, assistant professor of English Theresa DiPasquale examines how 17th century theological debate influenced John Donne's poetry.

Released last winter by Duquesne University Press, the book is part of the series Medieval and Renaissance Literary Studies.

DiPasquale argues that Donne's deep involvement in the theological and ideological arguments of his time has important literary implications. In particular, the Reformation debate over the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist influenced Donne's understanding of the written word as "visible sign, of the poet as the quasi-divine maker of that sign, and of the reader as its receiver," she says.

Literature and Sacrament is structured around close readings of Donne's poems, including those of a secular nature that have not previously been viewed from this perspective.

According to the publisher, "Because the theological ferment of the 17th century so influenced and involved the society as a whole, this study not only sheds light on Donne's poems but also on the reading audience of the time and the ways in which they received and responded to these poetic sacraments."

DiPasquale earned master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia. Before coming to Whitman in 1998, she taught at Sweet Briar College, Carleton College, and Florida International University.

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