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Literature and degree in Renaissance England : Nashe, bourgeois tragedy, Shakespeare

Author: Peter Holbrook
Publisher: Newark : University of Delaware Press ; London ; Cranbury, N.J. : Associated University Presses, ©1994.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
In this volume Peter Holbrook considers the complex interrelations between the literature and social structures of late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century England. Arguing that social stratification is one of the central topics of much literature of the time, Holbrook draws on recent work in early modern English social history to describe the ways in which discursive modes in particular Renaissance texts  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Holbrook, Peter, 1959-
Literature and degree in Renaissance England.
Newark : University of Delaware Press ; London ; Cranbury, N.J. : Associated University Presses, ©1994
(OCoLC)622653587
Named Person: William Shakespeare; Thomas Nash; William Shakespeare; Thomas Nash; Thomas Nash; William Shakespeare; Thomas Nash; William Shakespeare; Nash, Thomas <1567-1601> - Pensée politique et sociale.; Shakespeare, William <1564-1616> - Pensée politique et sociale.; Thomas Nash; William Shakespeare
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Peter Holbrook
ISBN: 0874134749 9780874134742
OCLC Number: 27976240
Description: 204 pages ; 25 cm
Contents: 1. "Playing the Knave": Social Symbolism and Interplay in Thomas Nashe. The Politics of Variety in Nashe and Lyly. Nashe, Contradiction, and Interplay: The Example of Lenten Stuffe. Pierce Penilesse. Summers Last Will and Testament. The Unfortunate Traveller --
2. "No Glorious State": The Social Interplay of Bourgeois Tragedy --
3. Shakespeare and the Social Symbolism of Art. A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew. The Two Noble Kinsmen. King Lear, Coriolanus.
Responsibility: Peter Holbrook.

Abstract:

In this volume Peter Holbrook considers the complex interrelations between the literature and social structures of late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century England. Arguing that social stratification is one of the central topics of much literature of the time, Holbrook draws on recent work in early modern English social history to describe the ways in which discursive modes in particular Renaissance texts articulate social difference. He argues that despite recent influential historicizations of English Renaissance literature, we still need a nuanced understanding of the ways in which "degree," the structure of social distinctions in Renaissance England, was symbolized in the period's literature. Holbrook suggests that it is time to reconsider approaches that take contradiction to be the key fact of English Renaissance social and socioliterary life, and look instead at the variety of ways in which Renaissance writers articulate the relations of different social coups. After an opening chapter arguing for the central importance of status to Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, Holbrook turns to particular Renaissance texts that seem to take degree - or social position - as their subject, and that are at the same time acutely aware of the social significance of discursive modes themselves. Thus, in analyzing the work of the pamphleteer Thomas Nashe, Holbrook offers an account of Nashe's style as an attempt to turn to advantage its author's difficult and ambiguous social position. Holbrook also discusses plays (such as Arden of Faversham, A Yorkshire Tragedy, and A Woman Killed with Kindness) that complicate the high genre of tragedy by representing middling or non-aristocratic characters in that mode. Finally, he turns to some Shakespearean treatments of degree in both comedies and tragedies. A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, Coriolanus, and The Two Noble Kinsmen are seen as addressing in fictional form - sometimes critically - aspects of social hierarchy. Each of the texts considered here, Holbrook suggests, testifies to a willingness in the period to use literature to explore, in a status-obsessed society, the nature of degree. Throughout the author's concern is to stress the ways in which Renaissance texts are aware of the "socially symbolic" character of discursive modes (the ways in which literary form is social form), as well as to urge the revision of a currently dominant model for describing social and socioliterary relations in the English Renaissance - that based upon a simple dichotomy of elite versus populace.

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