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Rhetoric and Courtliness in Early Modern Literature
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 (ISBN-13: 9780511056000 | ISBN-10: 0511056001)

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


Acknowledgements; Introduction; 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; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


'… 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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