Gentility and the Comic Theatre of Late Stuart London
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.
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