Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America

Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America

by David S. Shields
     
 

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Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America

Overview

Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Shields (English, The Citadel) explores compellingly the role of private societiessalons, clubs, coffeehouses, tavern companies, tea tables, balls, and ritual assembliesin invoking free discourse and civility in British America. Such societies lay outside state control, unlike formal court society, and thus were avenues for encouraging art, forming a range of opinions, and refining manners. Each of these societies developed its own distinctive manner of discourse, which Shields describes in some detail. Scholars of British America and early American literature will find his book the most valuable, as will any reader interested in the 18th century's "Republic of Letters."David B. Mattern, Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807846568
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
05/26/1997
Series:
Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
382
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.01(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Shields's learned book creates an archivally informed and balanced picture of eighteenth-century elite culture in Anglo-America. . . . [A] splendid book.—American Literature

Shields explores compellingly the role of private societies—salons, clubs, coffeehouses, tavern companies, tea tables, balls, and ritual assemblies—in invoking free discourse and civility in British America. . . . Scholars of British America and early American literature will find this book the most valuable, as will any reader interested in the 18th century's 'Republic of Letters.'—Library Journal

An immensely learned and stimulating account of cultural change at a crucial time in British America.—New England Quarterly

Examines the complexities of private society with detailed, lively accounts of the coffeehouses, clubs, salons, balls, and tea times of eighteenth-century America. Shields recreates an exuberant social exchange that provides a significant contribution for scholars, students, and general readers of British-American history and culture. . . . An invaluable source of archival writings, poetry, letters, gazettes, all meticulously gathered for this collection. . . . Not only testifies to women's influence on public discourse but also suggests exciting directions for future scholarship in what is certainly a landmark study.—Women's Studies

A major contribution to our understanding of [the] process of cultural transplantation. . . . Civil Tongues and Polite Letters will enhance David Shields's reputation as one of the brightest stars in the rising generation of analysts of the literary culture of British America.—Jack P. Greene, Times Literary Supplement

Shields has constructed a most unusual book. . . . Seldom does a scholar come up with something so new.—William and Mary Quarterly

Shields has transformed our understanding of the cultural and literary history of British America. Taking readers into the salons, coffeehouses, clubs, and tea tables of the colonies, he introduces us to . . . not only the men whose presence we might have anticipated but the previously invisible women who were central to these discursive institutions. Learned and elegant, Civil Tongues and Polite Letters illuminates the world in which a provincial elite constituted sociability and in the process defined themselves.—Mary Kelley, Dartmouth College

Meet the Author

David S. Shields is professor of English at The Citadel.

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