Anne Lock's Poetics of Spiritual Abjection



In her 1560 sonnet sequence, Anne Lock's poetics offer a new understanding of the emergence of poetic subjectivity in early modern verse. Lock constructs an abject poetic persona based on biblical figures of penitent sinners and unprofitable servants, and simultaneously authorizes herself as a talented biblical exegete, a Calvinist, and a poet. This article uses Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject to examine Lock's construction of spiritual identity. Additionally, Kristeva's theories of the semiotic and the symbolic elucidate tensions within Lock's verse between poetic and sacred discourses, and illustrate how Lock defies conventional disapproval of women speaking publically, while asserting her identity as a member of the Geneva exiles’ reform movement.