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Title: Sons and brothers : literary community in the English poetic tradition, c.1377-1547
Author: Evershed, Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2675 2702
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2007
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This study examines the importance of literary communities in the works of a number of key English poets: Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400), Thomas Hoccleve (c. 13671426), John Lydgate (c. 1370-1449), John Skelton (c. 1460-1529), Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547). It focuses on 'horizontal' peer-based literary communities and the support and literary friendships that such groups might provide, rather than 'vertical' patronage networks, and discusses ways in which these poets envisaged themselves as part of a community or communities of writers and/or literati, both actual and ideal, and what this contributed to their imagined identity as writers and the kind of poetry they produced. The Introduction analyses some of the critical terms and frameworks from within which a discussion of literary communities may take place. Chapter One provides a survey of some of the forms, functions and practices of literary communities in Europe from antiquity to the early modern period. The remaining chapters examine English literary communities chronologically, focussing on the above poets as individuals and their identification of particular receptive audiences for their work from within their own social milieu. Chapter Two discusses the extent to which the group of men Paul Strohm identifies as Chaucer's circle may be viewed as a literary community, and the difference such communal contexts make to our reading of Chaucer's poetry. Chapter Three looks at Hoccleve and Lydgate as Chaucer's immediate successors in the fifteenth century. It concludes that a significant proportion of Hoccleve' s poetic output is shaped by his place within the community of the Privy Seal Office and that this community offered him opportunities to write on its behalf. It also considers Lydgate's interaction with a wide range of receptive communities, and examines his success in inspiring idealised authorial communities (Chaucerian and Parnassian) as a governing ideal for his readers, and the authors who followed him. Chapter Four focuses on Skelton's negotiation between different literary communities (academic, courtly and urban) and re-examines his agonistic and antagonistic attitudes to contemporary writers, focussing particularly on The Garlande ofLaurel!. Chapter Five offers a brief analysis of Wyatt and Surrey and the 'new' company of gentlemen poets they represented by way of conclusion, looking particularly at Wyatt's epistolary satires to friends. Although England may not have developed formal literary societies equivalent to those on the continent in the late medieval to early renaissance periods, in the case of each of the poets examined in this study the informal literary communities they did associate with, both actual and imagined, were influential in shaping their poetry and offering them encouragement to write.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available