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Law and Empire in English Renaissance Literature


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

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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

    Review of the hardback: 'Lockey's book remains a rich and emphatic advertisement for the accompanying benefits of taking an expansive view of romance that looks beyond purely literary questions to consider national politics and attitudes to laws and regimes.' Dalhousie Review

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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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