Term of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Mary Villeponteaux

Committee Member 1

Dustin Anderson

Committee Member 2

Julia Griffin


Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella challenges Elizabethan notions of masculinity by featuring a subversive gender performance. Throughout the sonnet sequence, Astrophil attempts to demonstrate his masculinity by using the gendered structure of Petrarchan rhetoric to pursue Stella. He engages in this performance of masculinity in order to establish himself as an adequate Petrarchan (i.e., masculine) lover. Studying this text in relation to Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity emphasizes Astrophil’s active engagement in a subversive gender performance. Astrophil’s debasement at the end of the text further illustrates Sidney’s depiction of Elizabethan masculinity as unstable and continually bound by cultural norms.