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Title: The morality of learning and the concept of the poet : a study of the debate on the purpose, role and scope of human learning in England in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, with particular reference to Samuel Daniel and Fulke Greville
Author: Booy, David George
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1983
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The principal objects of this dissertation are three : first, to provide detailed readings of two long poems of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries - Musophilus by Samuel Daniel and A Treatie of Humane Learning by Fulke Greville; secondly, to recover the intellectual, moral, and aesthetic contexts in which they were written; thirdly, through a study of those contexts, to account for the markedly different attitudes towards learning and poetry displayed by the two men in their respective poems. This involves my outlining the current debates about the nature and functiort of human learning, and examining the concept of the learned poet and the particular situation within which it evolved in England. Concerned to establish the credentials of English poetry alongside those of other nations and times, but confronted by an age-old hostility to the art, English poets of the later sixteenth century, and those who wrote in their defence, turned to the concept of dootus poeta to justify their vocation. Building upon the traditional humanist link between learning and virtue, they countered the various charges brought against poets, especially those of immorality and intellectual and social irrelevancy, and claimed for them a special role in the learned community. However, the nature of their claims and the ideology and circumstances within which they were shaped, led to the fashioning of a concept of the poet at odds with some of the major tendencies in the world of learning - towards the wider dissemination of knowledge, the direct involvement of the learned man in his society, and the recognition of a broader range of subjects and activities as acceptable modes of learning; at odds too in some respects with reformed doctrines concerning vanity, pride, and the right use of learning. Musophilus is studied within this context, and Daniel's views are compared particularly to those of Spenser, Chapman, and Sidney. Greville, however, deliberately withdrew from the ideology within which these men worked out their mode of existence as poets, his ideas growing out of an involvement with contemporary scepticism and radical Protestant thought. Thus he could respond positively to certain realignments in current thought about learning in a way his fellow poets could not.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature