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Title: Cultures of shame in Britain, c.1650-1800
Author: Zhao, Han
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 1247
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines the cultures of shame in the latter half of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain. It offers a critical response to two oversimplified accounts of shame in the current non-historical literature: the traditional view, which identifies shame as a socially-constructed and morally-problematic emotion, and the recent revisionist view, which claims that shame is virtuous and entirely autonomous. By identifying shame as an emotion, a sense of honour, a moral sanction, a commodity, and a disciplinary weapon, and scrutinising it through the lens of religion, politeness, print, and law, this thesis explores how contemporaries experienced, interpreted, represented, and utilised shame for spiritual, moral, commercial, and judicial purposes over time. It demonstrates that shame, within different historical contexts, could be social as well as personal, morally virtuous as well as morally irrelevant or even bad. Shame was an essential religious emotion. Religious shame was a self-imposed and morally-virtuous emotion; it was desired and embraced by early modern Protestants, who saw it as a sign of piety and a means to come nearer to God. While religious shame was an emotion primarily concerning personal salvation, shame in a secular context was a socially-constructed concept dealing with a person’s public honour. Early modern people regarded shame as something of great moral and disciplinary value, which functioned as an inward restraint keeping people away from sin, and a form of community and judicial punishments. However, the moral and disciplinary characteristics of shame were not immutable; in the eighteenth century, shame faced the danger of being abused and reduced to a superficial and detrimental concept.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: China Scholarship Council (CSC) ; Government of the People's Republic of China
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform