Bourgeois heroics: Commercial anxieties and the rise of the mercantile hero in the early modern period
AuthorMacleod, Alexander Justin O.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractBourgeois Heroics analyzes the increasing influence of an emergent middle class upon literary production, demonstrating a growing cultural trend away from an heroism associated with moral fortitude and noble birth (embodied in contemporary notions of the "courtier") towards one characterized by responsible economic policy and household management. This cultural shift, I contend, reflects the demands of a bourgeois identity deeply invested in commercial success. My research delves into Tudor economic, religious, and political documents to uncover the ways in which bourgeois insecurities and anxieties about financial and moral failure are displaced onto a series of imaginary threats, such as commodities, women, and institutions that resist the control of the market place. Fusing materialist and psychoanalytic approaches, I argue that these specifically mercantile fears have left their literary traces and given shape to a unique form of heroism, one that in its literary representations reflects back upon the values of the middle class, assuages commercial anxieties, and ultimately validates a bourgeois identity.
Degree ProgramGraduate College