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Law and Empire in English Renaissance Literature

$36.99 (C)

  • Date Published: September 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521120142

$ 36.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Early modern literature played a key role in the formation of the legal justification for imperialism. As the English colonial enterprise developed, the existing legal tradition of common law no longer solved the moral dilemmas of the new world order, in which England had become, instead of a victim of Catholic enemies, an aggressive force with its own overseas territories. Writers of romance fiction employed narrative strategies in order to resolve this difficulty and, in the process, provided a legal basis for English imperialism. Brian Lockey analyses works by such authors as Shakespeare, Spenser and Sidney in the light of these legal discourses, and uncovers new contexts for the genre of romance. Scholars of early modern literature, as well as those interested in the history of law as the British Empire emerged, will learn much from this insightful and ambitious study.

    • Interdisciplinary study of early modern law and literature
    • Analyses canonical authors like Shakespeare, Sidney and Spenser
    • New research on the influences of Spanish literature and thought
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The strength of this study is that it foregrounds a very lively and extremely compelling dialectic at the core of early modern British imperialism and shows how this pressure percolates up into literature of the period."
    - Peter Kanelos, University of San Diego, Renaissance Quarterly

    "To his credit Lockey's reading of the early modern romance tradition avoids any simplified narrative of literary development. Instead each writer is presented as balancing the potentially deep contradictions between nationalism, sovereignty, and the basic human rights possessed by both conqueror and conquered-as the English empire grew, so too did the complexity of its literary responses. This approach yields fresh readings of often somewhat neglected texts."
    -Todd Butler, Early Modern Literary Studies

    "Lockey's impulse to revivify the romance genre by placing it in wider context is laudable"
    Sixteenth Century Journal, Andrew Kau, Yale University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521120142
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: romance and the ethics of expansion
    Part I. Romance and Law:
    1. Transnational justice and the genre of Romance
    2. Natural law and charitable intervention in Sir Philip Sidney's Old Arcadia
    3. Natural law and corrupt lawyers: Riche, Roberts, Johnson, and Warner
    4. Spenser's legalization of the Irish conquest
    Part II. The Prerogative Courts and the Conquest Within:
    5. Historical contexts: common law, natural law, civil law
    6. Roman conquest and English legal identity in Cymbeline
    7. Love's justice and the freedom of Brittany in Lady Mary Wroth's Urania Part One
    Conclusion: English law and the early modern Romance.

  • Author

    Brian C. Lockey, St John's University, New York

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