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Title: Community conflict in early-modern South-West England : provincial libels and their performance contexts
Author: Egan, Clare Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 0386
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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With a particular emphasis on Devon, this thesis examines cases of early-modern libel as performances devised and enacted in the provincial communities of South-West England. In particular, it focuses on the Star Chamber records of libel from the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset during the reign of James I between 1603 and 1625. Whilst the performance-nature of libel has previously been acknowledged, there has not been any full scale analysis of early-modern provincial libels in terms of performance. This thesis argues that it was the performance of libel which made it a growing concern to those in authority and that provincial libel should be viewed in terms of a spectrum of performance. It also critically considers the view of this kind of libel that is currently implied by the selected publication of libel cases in the Records of Early English Drama volumes. The thesis includes an exploration of the uses of space and place by performance-based libel through the mapping of a sample of cases from Devon onto their contemporary landscape. The roles of women as spectators and engineers of libel performances are also examined, and this, in turn, necessitates careful consideration of the nature and limitations of the records through which accounts of provincial libel are received. Finally, the thesis applies literary analysis to the contents of those performance-based libels which used texts, in verse or prose, to defame their targets. From this analysis emerge features which can begin to define a genre of performance-based textual libel characterised by a distinctive authorial voice and a complex system of generic association. The study of the offence of libel at a local level in the South-West counties of England reveals sophisticated uses of performance in early-modern communal conflicts from all levels of society during a period of wider cultural, social and political change.
Supervisor: Mcgavin, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: D204 Modern History ; HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform ; PE English