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Jessica Lynn Winston
Idaho State University (Pocatello, ID 83201-5377)
Lawyers at Play: Literary and Political Culture of the Inns of Court, 1558-1572

"Lawyers at Play" examines the literary and political community of the English law schools, the Inns of Court, in the 1560s in order to revise the long-held idea that the poetry, translations, and drama of the decade are "drab" works that merely laid the ground for a later Elizabethan "golden age." I argue that the Inns were literary, professional, and political communities, showing that literary activity helped members to understand their political world and to participate in and comment on it. In addition to providing a new framework for appreciating the literature of the 1560s, "Lawyers at Play" contributes to recent work on the emergence of public political discourse in early modern England, promoting a shift in literary criticism on the early modern public sphere from the political ideas in literary texts to their discursive contexts--more specifically, the associational and physical contexts in which these texts were produced and that structured political discourse itself.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
British Literature

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2011 – 7/31/2012