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Title: The poets laureate of the long eighteenth century : courting the public, c.1668-1813
Author: Shipp, L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 6882
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis examines the office of poet laureate, and the wider cultural role of the court by whom the laureate was employed, in the long eighteenth century. This was the period in which the laureateship first came into being (1668), developed from an honorific into a functionary office with a settled position at court (c.1689-1715), and was bestowed upon Robert Southey (1813), whose selection precipitated a further transformation of the office and therefore marks the endpoint of this study. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this thesis examines the institutional changes in the office, the mechanics of each laureate's appointment, the reputation and public reception of the office, and the works produced by the laureates both before and after their appointments. It demonstrates that the office was hugely prominent, relevant, and respectable throughout the period, and argues that it crowned and encapsulated some of the most vital trends in eighteenth-century culture. The analysis is framed within the question of whether (as tends to be postulated in scholarship on the long eighteenth century) this period witnessed the rise of a commercial, middle-class public at the expense of the court's previously central role in society and culture. In this postulation, the long eighteenth century was the period in which British society underwent various modernizing developments, becoming more commercial, more defined by middle-class activities, and more conscious of a British national identity; while 'literature' was first created as a concept and an institution, and literary production moved away from the court into the marketplace. While this thesis pays great attention to these developments, it argues that they did not occur so much at the expense of the court, but rather in close and fruitful interaction with it. The court retained an active but evolving role in literary production, cultural and commercial affairs more widely, issues of national identity, and the activities and interests of a middle-class public; it thus remained central to British society and culture. The laureateship, standing at the dynamic interface of court and public, is the definitive exemplar of this state of affairs.
Supervisor: Vandrei, M. ; Groom, N. ; Bygrave, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Poet Laureate ; Long Eighteenth Century ; Court ; Public