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.Read more
- 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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- 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.
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