Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Anna M. Foy

Committee Member

Joseph Taylor

Committee Member

Jeffery Nelson


Alexander Pope--1688-1744--Criticism and interpretation., English verse satire--History and criticism., Religion in literature--History and criticism., English literature--18th century., Alexander Pope--1688-1744.--Dunciad.


Psalm imitation and paraphrase for the purpose of modernizing and meditating upon the word of God was a common practice in eighteenth-century England; however, Alexander Pope’s A Roman Catholick Version of the First Psalm, for the Use of a Young Lady and the more obscure Psalm XCI function differently from the typical psalm paraphrases done by Isaac Watts and Christopher Smart. Rather than participate in devotional meditation, Pope’s two psalms demonstrate a performance of devotion while at the same time revealing a rejection of true religious sentiment. This performance of religiosity and irreligiosity is later leveraged by Pope in the Dunciad controversy, where the psalms serve as evidence of Pope’s performance and critical reception by his contemporaries.



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