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Title: Poetic genre and economic thought in the long eighteenth century : three case studies
Author: Bucknell, Clare
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 0596
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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During the eighteenth century, the dominant rhetorical and explanatory power of civic humanism was gradually challenged by the rise of a new organising language in political economy. Political economic thought permitted radically different descriptions of what laudable private and public behaviour might be: it proposed that self-interest was often more beneficial to society at large than public-mindedness; that luxury had its uses and might not be a threat to liberty and political integrity; that landownership was no particular guarantee of virtue or disinterest; and that there was nothing inherently superior about frugality and self-sufficiency. These new ideas about civil society formed the intellectual basis of a large body of verse written during the long eighteenth century (at mid-century in particular), in which poets engaged enthusiastically with political economic arguments and defences of commercial activity, and celebrated the wealth and plenty of Britain as a modern trading nation. The work of my thesis is to examine a contradiction in the way in which these political economic ideas were handled. Forward-looking and confident poetry on public themes did not develop pioneering forms to suit the modernity of its outlook: instead, poets articulated such themes in verse by appropriating and reframing traditional genres, which in some cases involved engaging with inherited moral values and philosophical preferences entirely at odds with the intellectual material in hand. This inventive kind of generic revision is the central interest of the thesis. It aims to describe a number of problematic meeting points between new political economic thought and handed-down poetic formulae, and it will focus attention on some of the ways in which poets manipulated the forms and tropes they inherited in order to manage – and make the most of – the resulting contradictions.
Supervisor: Womersley, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Civic & landscape art ; Architecture ; Early modern English literature (1550 ? 1780) ; English and Old English literature ; Landscape ; Reception of Classical antiquity ; Economic and Social History ; Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; Intellectual History ; Ethics (Moral philosophy) ; Economic history ; Political ideologies ; eighteenth century ; poetry ; genre ; classical reception ; country house poetry ; georgic ; satire