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Rhetoric and Courtliness in Early Modern Literature


  • Date Published: May 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521035712

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About the Authors
  • Rhetoric and Courtliness in Early Modern Literature explores the early modern interest in conversation as a newly identified art. Conversation was widely accepted to have been inspired by the republican philosopher Cicero. Recognizing his influence on courtesy literature - the main source for 'civil conversation' - Jennifer Richards uncovers alternative ways of thinking about humanism as a project of linguistic and social reform. She argues that humanists explored styles of conversation to reform the manner of association between male associates; teachers and students, buyers and sellers, and settlers and colonial others. They reconsidered the meaning of 'honesty' in social interchange in an attempt to represent the tension between self-interest and social duty. Richards explores the interest in civil conversation among mid-Tudor humanists, John Cheke, Thomas Smith and Roger Ascham, as well as their self-styled successors, Gabriel Harvey and Edmund Spenser.

    • A fascinating study of changing attitudes to male friendship
    • This book offers a cultural study of 'honesty' in the early modern period
    • Will be of interest to literary and cultural historians
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… valuable approaches … thought-provoking and nicely controversial study.' Notes and Queries

    '… well paced and well proportioned … carefully argued and interesting.' Sixteenth Century Journal

    'Jennifer Richards' Rhetoric and Courtliness in Early Modern Literature is itself a fine example of cultural history focused on early modern rhetorical concerns. Rhetorica

    '… thought-provoking and nicely controversial'. Thomas MacFaul, Oriel College, Oxford

    'The argument of Rhetoric and Courtliness in Early Modern Literature is an elegant if complex one. …[this book] is a discriminating and careful work of literary and cultural history.' Criticism

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521035712
    • length: 220 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 160 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.332kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Types of honesty: civil and domestical conversation
    2. From rhetoric to conversation: reading for Cicero in The Book of the Courtier
    3. Honest rivalries: Tudor humanism and linguistic and social reform
    4. Honest speakers: sociable commerce and civil conversation
    5. A commonwealth of letters: Harvey and Spenser in dialogue
    6. A new poet, a new social economy: homosociality and The Shepheardes Calender

  • Author

    Jennifer Richards, University of Newcastle upon Tyne
    Jennifer Richards is Lecturer in English at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. She is the editor, with James Knowles, of Shakespeare's Late Plays: New Readings (1999) and the author of articles in Renaissance Quarterly and Criticism.

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