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Gentility and the Comic Theatre of Late Stuart London

Gentility and the Comic Theatre of Late Stuart London


Part of Cambridge Social and Cultural Histories

  • Date Published: June 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521848091

£ 86.99

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About the Authors
  • Where Adam delved and Eve span Who was then the gentleman? Mark Dawson's approach to this riddle is not to study the lives of those said to belong to early modern England's gentry. He suggests we remain skeptical of all answers to this question and consider what was at stake whenever it was posed. We should conceive of gentility as a mutable process of social delineation. Gentility was a matter of power and language; cultural definition and social domination. Neither consistently defined nor applied to particular social groups, gentility was about identifying society's elite. The book examines how gentility was portrayed through plays at London's theatres (1660–1725). Employing a rich assembly of sources, comedies with their cits and fops, periodicals, correspondence of theatre patrons and polemic from its detractors, Dawson revises several of social history's conclusions about the gentry and offers new interpretations to students of late Stuart drama.

    • Novel approach of the debates on gentility in early modern England
    • This study will appeal to scholars working in a wide range of fields, as it combines literary criticism and socio-cultural and historical research
    • Draws on a wide range of sources (comic scripts, periodicals, private letters …) to illustrate his arguments
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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2005
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521848091
    • length: 318 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Gentility and Power:
    1. The citizen cuckold and the London repertoire
    2. Confronting ambiguities of genteel birth and city wealth
    3. Genteel authority and the virtue of commerce
    Part II. The Social Microcosm of London's Playhouses:
    4. Stratifying the playhouse
    5. Excluding the riff-raff
    6. Profiles of the genteel and rich
    Part III. Gentility as Culture:
    7. The fop as social upstart
    8. Suspect sexuality and the fop
    9. Succession crises and the politics of foppery
    Part IV. Managing the Theatre's Social Discourse:
    10. Society and the Collier controversy
    11. Caught in the act: promiscuous players and blushing spectators
    12. Rival claims to a genteel authorship.

  • Author

    Mark S. Dawson, Australian National University, Canberra
    Mark Dawson, who attended the University of Auckland (New Zealand), is a scholar in early modern history.

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