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Civility, Cultural Exchange, and Conduct Literature in Early Modern England, 1500-1800

English title Civility, Cultural Exchange, and Conduct Literature in Early Modern England, 1500-1800
Applicant Ghose Indira
Number 185414
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département d'Anglais Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline German and English languages and literature
Start/End 01.09.2019 - 31.08.2023
Approved amount 766'955.00
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Keywords (6)

civility; cultural exchange; conduct literature; history of the book; gender; digital humanities

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Dieses Forschungsprojekt untersucht das Zusammenspiel zwischen Produktion und Rezeption in der englischen Verhaltensliteratur des 16. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert, wobei ein ideengeschichtlicher Ansatz mit der Methodologie der Buchgeschichte verbunden wird. Das Team erstellt eine open-access Datenbank, die die gesamte englischprachige Buchproduktion von Verhaltenslehrbüchern zwischen 1500 und 1800 umfasst. Erfasst werden darin Metadaten zur Uebersetzung, Publikation, Marketing und dem Besitz der Bücher. Hauptziel ist die Gewinnung von Erkenntnissen über den Einfluss des Buchmarktes auf die Zirkulation kultureller Ideen innerhalb Europas.
Lay summary

Die neuere Kulturgeschichte hat gezeigt: Mannieren und Verhaltensnormen sind keine trivialen Aspekte alltäglicher Interaktion, sondern grundlegende Kategorien der modernen Identität. Obwohl sich die Kodifizierung von Konventionen in allen Epochen und Kulturen finden lässt, war sie besonders einflussreich im Europa der frühen Neuzeit. Zwar entstand die frühneuzeitliche Kultur der Höflichkeit in Italien, ab dem 17. Jahrhundert übernahm jedoch Frankreich die Rolle des kulturellen Vorbilds. Unser Projekt wird die Gattung der Verhaltenslehrbücher in England in einen europäischen Kontext stellen. Wir verfolgen, wie sich die Ideen über soziales Verhalten in Europa verbreitet haben, indem wir analysieren, wie Texte übersetzt worden sind, wie sie an den englischen Konsumenten angepasst wurden und wie sie vermarket wurden. Die dabei entstehende open-access Datenbank wird nicht nur für unsere Arbeit von grosser Bedeutung sein, sondern stellt eine wertvolle Grundlage für künftige Forschung dar.

Das Projekt kombiniert Ansätze der Ideengeschichte mit Erkenntnissen aus der Forschung zu der Geschichte der Emotionen sowie der Buchgeschichte. Ziel ist es, neue Erkenntnisse zu gewinnen über die Geschichte des sozialen Verhaltens und über das Verhältnis zwischen gender und genre. Die Methodologien der digital humanities sowie der analytical bibliography kommten dabei zu Anwendung, um weitere Einblicke über die Produktion, Vermarktung, und Verbreitung von frühneuzeitlichen Texten zu ermöglichen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.04.2019

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Abstract

Manners and norms of good conduct, once seen as trivial aspects of social life, are now regarded by cultural historians as having had a profound impact on modern identity. While the codification of manners is to be found in all cultures and at all historical periods, the genre of conduct literature was particularly influential in Europe between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. It encompasses a range of texts such as treatises of the court, parental advice books, guides to conversation, devotional writings, and periodical essays, and advises its readers about ideal social behaviour. Valuable scholarship has been produced about the history of manners, about how conduct literature contributes to constructions of masculinity and femininity and to the intersection of gender with class, and about the way norms of civility have affected nationalist discourses. What has not been sufficiently explored is the interconnected role played by material and cultural aspects of these texts. This project will focus on the interaction between the production and reception of conduct books in early modern England (1500 to 1800). Our interest lies in the dissemination of ideas as well as the materiality of the texts and the way the genre was marketed. Drawing on scholarship in intellectual history and the history of the book, we aim to explore a range of questions. How were notions about good conduct from early modern Italy and France appropriated and assimilated into English society? How were these ideas reshaped in the English context, and how did they interact with discourses of gender, class, and nation? What changes did translators introduce into the English versions of the texts? How were these texts adapted to the English print market? What modifications were inserted by publishers, and what paratextual and other marketing strategies were deployed to tailor the appeal of these texts to potential readers? What conclusions can we draw from records of publication, pricing data, the binding of texts, inventories, auction catalogues, and lists of subscribers? Are there readerly annotations in extant copies that will provide further insight into how these books were received?To gain answers to these questions, we will produce an open-access database of conduct books published in England from 1500 to 1800, using a range of online resources and extant material collections. This database will enable us to investigate the patterns of translation, publication, marketing and commercial reception of English conduct books. Furthermore, as a test case, a selection of ca. 15 texts translated from French into English and vice versa, many of them produced by Swiss publishing houses, will be carefully collated. These texts will be taken from the corpus of conduct books addressed to, and often produced by, women. Drawing on findings from the database of English conduct literature from 1500 to 1800, the project will result in two monograph, a doctoral thesis, and a number of peer-reviewed articles. The goal of the project is to create a fund of research and produce a valuable resource for future scholarship in this field.
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