Literature, Social Structure, and Nationhood in England, 1580-1780
Nigel Smith, University of Oxford
By the close of the eighteenth century in England, the predominantly urban middle and laboring classes had developed a literary culture independent of th elite, in which political, religious, and cultural crises could be configured. The seminar searched for the roots of this cultural transformation in the social and linguistic forces unleashed by the English Reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The seminars explored the relationship between literary genres and social class in the early modern period and compared the English experience with that of other European nation states and colonial America. A particular emphasis was placed on the constructions of various languages of interiority and economic rationality and the influence of political and religious radicalism on middle-class culture.
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