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Pollard, Fiona E. (1997) An analysis of the emergence of early Masonic symbolism. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The subject of this thesis is English Masonic symbolism set within the limits of the middle of the seventeenth to the late eighteenth century which allows for the study of the earliest sources. The objective of the thesis is to analyse and compare the sources of early Masonic symbolism to determine when particular symbols first appeared and how they developed into themes through the eighteenth-century. This study is placed within the historical context of the early development of Freemasonry, its background and the type of member it attracted, and also the contemporary intellectual milieu in which the symbols emerged. Before an examination of the sources is undertaken a discussion on the theory and meaning of the term symbol is provided. A number of theories and definitions are addressed from various fields of study, such as anthropology, psychology and theology. This in turn forms the basis of a definition of Masonic symbolism as it is to be used during the course of the thesis. The sources themselves are divided into two: literary and visual. The first are comprised of a number of manuscripts, which may be described as Exposures or Expositions of Masonic ritual, in the form of catechisms. The second are a collection of objects, engravings and drawings that clearly depict Masonic symbols. Data concerning the specific symbols from both these sources is collated and presented in tables. This format allows for a comparison between the appearance of symbols in literary form, as they are described in the Expositions, and as they are shown in visual form. The conclusions that are drawn from this study ascertain the nature of early Masonic symbolism and whether it emerged in spite of various contemporary movements and intellectual fashions, or that its development was in fact influenced by them.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:03

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