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"Measures Meet for Every Sort" : the social dynamics of late-Elizabethan genre

  • Author(s): Bialo, Caralyn Alyssa
  • et al.
Abstract

"Measures Meet for Every Sort" explores how genre shaped and was shaped by the discursive and material constructions of social status in late-Elizabethan England. While genre can be narrowly defined as a set of literary models that writers inherit from the past, my work asserts that generic meaning is also informed by writers' and audiences' extra-literary modes of knowledge. Chapter One explores Elizabethans' understanding of genre as socially positioned. Chapter Two shows how Book VI of Spenser's Faerie Queene reconfigures the genres in which Elizabeth's court conventionally represented nobility-- pastoral and chivalric romance--by foregrounding a georgic vision of courtesy. Chapter Three turns to the work of Thomas Nashe. Nashe merges elite and non-elite genres in the Unfortunate Traveler to create a witty, marginalized protagonist who appeals to yet advertises Nashe's independence from both humanist and popular audiences. Chapter Four focuses on Shakespeare's use of broadside ballads to depict Ophelia's madness. Exploiting the ballad's "lowness," Shakespeare encourages spectators to interpret Ophelia's madness as a critique of the Danish court

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