Literary Circles and Cultural Communities in Renaissance England

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Although the literary circle is widely recognized as a significant feature of Renaissance literary culture, it has received remarkably little examination. In this collection of essays, the authors attempt to explain literary circles and cultural communities in Renaissance England by exploring both actual and imaginary ways in which they were conceived and the various needs they fulfilled. The book also pays considerable attention to larger theoretical issues relating to literary circles.

The essayists raise important questions about the extent to which literary circles were actual constructs or fictional creations. Whether illuminating or limiting, the circle metaphor itself can be extended or reformulated. Some of the authors discuss how particular circles actually operated, and some question the very concept of the literary circle. Literary Circles and Cultural Communities in Renaissance England will be an important addition to seventeenth-century studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Presented first in abbreviated versions at a 1998 conference at the U. or Michigan-Dearborn, a dozen essays from scholars of literature and the Renaissance attempt to explain communities such as the Overbury circle, the school of Donne, Jonson and the Sons of Ben, the Cavendish or Newcastle network, the Stanley circle, and the Great Tew alliance. The volume explores the ways in which these communities were conceived, the needs they fulfilled, and the ways these groups shaped the writings of individual members. Attention is also paid to larger theoretical issues relating to literary circles and to the broader concept of cultural communities. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826213174
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2001
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors

Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth are both William E. Stirton Professors in the Humanities at the University of Michigan- Dearborn. They have coedited numerous works, including The English Civil Wars in the Literary Imagination, The Wit of Seventeenth-Century Poetry, and Fault Lines and Controversies in the Study of Seventeenth-Century English Literature.

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth
Of Circles, Friendship, and the Imperatives of Literary History by Judith Scherer Herz
"Like a Spyed Spie": Donne's Baiting of Marlowe by M. Thomas Hester
The Invention of the Literary Circle of Sir Thomas Overbury by John Considine
Reading Poets Reading Poets: Herbert and Crashaw's Literary Ellipse by Paul A. Parrish
"This Art Will Live": Social and Literary Responses to Ben Jonson's The New Inn by Robert C. Evans
Newcastle's Ghosts: Robert Payne, Ben Jonson, and "The Cavendish Circle" by Timothy Raylor
Thomas Stanley and "A Register of Friends" by Stella P. Revard
"To All Vertuous Ladies in Generall": Aemelia Lanyer's Community of Strong Women by Sharon Cadman Seelig
A Space for Academic Recreation: Milton's Proposal in The Reason of Church Government by Anna K. Nardo
Conversation, Conversion, Messianic Redemption: Margaret Fell, Menasseh ben Israel, and the Jews by Achsah Guibbory
Community and Social Order in the Great Tew Circle by P.G. Stanwood
"The Great Difference of Time": The Great Tew Circle and the Emergence of the Neoclassical Mode by M. L. Donnelly
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