Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Liberal Studies


Owen Smith

Second Committee Member

Jay Bregman

Third Committee Member

Tina Passman


Elizabeth’s represented body in Elizabeth I as Europa is a contextualized, represented bodily formation with visual-conceptual properties that cannot be dissociated. Spatializing how power and knowledge were ‘given to be seen’, her body and the Europa image constitute a linguistically-mediated, discursive reality by which order and coherence were given to otherwise disparate phenomena in the world. A social vehicle through which power-knowledge relations were established and redefined, her body presents a multidimensional, typical formation indexing the tropologically governed visibility of the geographical imagination. Reconceptualizing Elizabeth’s represented body as stated above presupposes that limiting visibility is simultaneous with signification. Distinctions between signifier and signified are considered a product of the discursive event, hence the basis for Elizabeth I as Europa analyzed herein as discourse. Unstable within its tropological configuration, the allegorization of Elizabeth’s represented body as anatomical and terrestrial presents a land-body metaphor referentially situated with a metonymically plotted single, nude breast. The conjoined relationship allows for a continual recoding of meaning: the extended analogy of land-body permits the effective collapse of portraiture and cartography into an art of ‘mapping’ via her body-made-visible. The resemblance governed by the adjacency of the breast permits configuration of the sexual identity of her represented body with an erotic charge that mediates among Elizabeth the desired, chaste virgin; Amazons; and newly discovered lands. Allegorically configuring Elizabeth’s body as Europe was an effective strategy of spatialization that engendered a normative visibility and made power acceptable, but it was also one that implicated her body in the discursivity of alterity. The appositive relation between the myth of Elizabeth’s virginity and the configuration of her body’s anatomical-terrestrial form privileged mapping of alterity interwoven with a theatrical display of imperial power. ‘Given to be seen’ through a cosmographical ‘glass’, Elizabeth’s gendered, sexualized represented body frames and organizes an emergent imperialist agenda, and makes material and apropos to her monarchical body the legitimacy of that mediated reality – one coded referentially as chaste/virginal, but also to an extent masculine, and ‘emplotted’ as the tropological configuration of her body. Visibility further limited by paradigmatic structures subtextually articulating the status of her represented body through a topos of dignitas non moritur, her body ‘emplots’ its own exceptionality and indexes alterity in the process. Elizabeth’s represented body in Elizabeth I as Europa is a discursive formation, wherein the reorganization and manipulation of language by the geographical imagination occurs on implicit and explicit levels and by means of a simultaneous interrelation of tropological, significant and paradigmatic structures, but also occurs under the visibility of a prefigured ‘male gaze’. The image, therefore, may be read in context of the geographical imagination – though much of her body’s rhetorical value lay in the instability of language attributed to that body and the metaphorical and metonymical configuration of its terms of intelligibility – the faculty mediating between subject-object and world that engendered an epistemological domain, wherein discovery, alterity and exceptionality coexist in the configuration of Elizabeth’s represented body in Elizabeth I as Europa.