You are here
(1 - 1 of 1)
- "Pictures...of a good subject" : friendship, the commonwealth, and the care of the self in early modern literature and culture
- Kranzman, Andrew Scott
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
This dissertation argues that emphases on self-knowledge and duty within friendship discourse of the early modern period repudiates a common assumption that friendship is primarily a private, selfless, apolitical affair separate from public life. This discourse largelyhighlights fashioning the self as an ethical and political subject while the friend per se remains of secondary concern. As the Early Modern Research Group observes, “the commonwealth...act[s] as a language to articulate...
Show moreThis dissertation argues that emphases on self-knowledge and duty within friendship discourse of the early modern period repudiates a common assumption that friendship is primarily a private, selfless, apolitical affair separate from public life. This discourse largelyhighlights fashioning the self as an ethical and political subject while the friend per se remains of secondary concern. As the Early Modern Research Group observes, “the commonwealth...act[s] as a language to articulate personal and public vices and virtues” (Early Modern Research Group 670). An emphasis on obligation and reciprocity for the common good or bonum commune, the importance of social hierarchy, obedience, and subordination, as well as a belief in moral discipline as the anodyne to social ills prove to be recurring components of this “language.”Some major concerns within friendship discourse and practice include: the realization of membership in a larger community; the importance of measure and mean to both individual and community well-being; the obligation to admonish community members who fail to upholdduties and shared moral standards; and the necessity of social concord across various classes. Moreover, period conceptions of friendship demonstrate that the formation of “good” and “dutiful” does not proceed without cognitive, moral, and emotional struggles, particularly, asregards indifference, selfishness, flattery, and resentment.Each chapter explores a specific facet of early modern friendship discourse and practice and places it in conversation with the “language” of the commonwealth: self-knowledge, the care of the self, frank speech, and gender. My first chapter argues that Tudor friendship pamphletsand Tottel’s Songs and Sonnets exploit the sentiment that self-knowledge fosters concord, where one learns to fashion the self into a dutiful subject to God and man. As I delineate in this chapter,discussions of self-knowledge frequently focus on the possibility of sedition arising from a lack of knowledge about one’s duty and obedience to the commonwealth. The second chapterexamines the disciplinary function of self-knowledge and duty within friendship discourse and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Concerns surrounding self-love and temperance in friendship focus on the potential for disaster when one does not know the extent of their duties to thecommonwealth. As I demonstrate in my third chapter, which focuses on Plutarch and King Lear, the sense of duty to authority that guides self-fashioning in friendship and buttresses self-knowledgealso highlights the necessity of fashioned speech, particularly the tactful articulation of one’s conscience in order to preserve ethical bonds and duties within the community. However, as regards the practice of tactful antagonism, that is, “parrhēsia” or frank speech, concerns surface because it potentially disrupts social hierarchies and so closely resembles the very thing it supposedly combats: flattery. In my final chapter, I examine themes discussed in earlier chapters (i.e., self-knowledge, temperance, and admonishment) through the lens of gender and class. Amelia Lanyer’s poems, and early modern culture and literature in general, depict caritas, or friendship between the self and others mediated by Christ, as one way to cultivate private virtue and public concord that surpasses social divisions. As I argue, divisions andfaultlines that are mostly class-based, along with visions of a lack of social mobility, pressure the utopian idea of friendship among women put forth by Lanyer as well as general discussions of social concord among all classes in the commonwealth.