From the stage to the coffeehouse to the drawing room: Conversation in eighteenth-century England
AdvisorCanfield, J. Douglas
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the history of conversation in eighteenth-century England by looking at normative sites of discourse, beginning with the comedies of the Restoration stage, moving on to the coffeehouses, the polite drawing rooms, and ending with an examination of the Bluestocking circle. Of particular interest is the role of women as conversation moves along a trajectory from the eloquence of the Renaissance period to a more rational style associated with the emerging middle class, to the polite conversation that allowed women a place in discourse. Early in the period, women were expected to remain silent--and thus chaste--when in company, but as the century progressed and it became clear that women's public roles were expanding, the mode of public discourse shifted, from eloquence to politeness. At the same time, the normative sites of discourse shifted as well, from the coffeehouse, in which the man aware of his civic duty engaged in rational debates on subjects of public import, to the more private drawing rooms, sites presided over by women and made polite by their presence. The conversation, as well, became less concerned with public issues such as politics and literary criticism and more taken up with the display of good manners.
Degree ProgramGraduate College