Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Jameela Lares

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Christopher Foley

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Andrew Haley

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Joyce Inman

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Dr. Charles Sumner

Committee Member 5 School



John Skelton habitually signed his poems “Skelton Laureat,” thus identifying the ambitious goals to which he aspired for his literary career and reputation. Despite his efforts, he was never recognized by his monarch, his peers, his critics, or his early modern readers as the laureate he wanted to be. I argue that one reason for this failure may be the success of his poem The Tunnynge of Elynour Rummynge, a poem that traces the economic life cycle of English ale and the English alehouse. Given the cultural associations that ale and alehouses had with poverty and disorder, Skelton’s reputation suffered in the century after his death as his early modern readers linked him with ale and judged his poetry by it. Instead of accepting Skelton as a laureate, his sixteenth and early seventeenth century audiences saw him as both a jestbook clown and as a poet for the masses. I argue that both of these associations occur through the materiality of ale, and I conclude by claiming that no greater example exists of reading Skelton through ale than that provided by Ben Jonson, who also desired laureate status and who repeatedly belittles Skelton in his own quest to attain it.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 14, 2030