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By Robert Matz

Robert Matz analyzes the safeguard of literature in Renaissance England within the context of social adjustments of the interval, fairly these affecting the aristocracy because it developed from a feudal warrior type to a civil elite. via shut readings based on works by way of Thomas Elyot, Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser, Matz argues that literature tried to mediate a fancy set of contradictory social expectancies. His unique learn engages with vital theoretical paintings corresponding to Pierre Bourdieu's and gives a considerable critique of latest Historicist thought.

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Extra info for Defending Literature in Early Modern England: Renaissance Literary Theory in Social Context

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These are not outside of history, in a transcendent, aesthetic sphere of literature. But 24 Defending Literature in Early Modern England the very historical nature of the aesthetic also means that the category has no absolute set of meanings or effects; rather, the aesthetic is a site of conflict and contradiction. Hence we need to be sensitive to the reasons aesthetic claims are made and to the uses to which they are put at a particular historical moment. We are within this history too; we cannot transcend the tensions that the trope of profit and pleasure collects and condenses.

Was it better to train one’s son for warrior service, in courtly graces, or according to Protestant-humanist precepts that emphasized discipline and industry? What was the value of any of these measured against birth? Those at the top of the social hierarchy, an Elizabeth or a Leicester, could accumulate each form of capital. Such a synthesis was also sought, if not always successfully, by the authors I consider, whose use of Horatian theory was responsive to their ambiguous social status and their conflicted identifications with divergent cultural values.

Howe vigilant,” Elyot writes in the Governour, “ought a christen man beinge in autoritie – howe vigilant (I say), industrious, and diligent ought he to be in the administration of a publike weale” (2:3). Diligent, and in administration, not defense: but rather than a life of quiet and insistent labor, Elias has described how the feudal knight necessarily developed his affects for the sudden violence of battle; his aggression was unreserved and he planned little for the future, only for present victory.

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