Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England

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9780226326337: Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England

What have poems and maps, law books and plays, ecclesiastical polemics and narratives of overseas exploration to do with one another? By most accounts, very little. They belong to different genres and have been appropriated by scholars in different disciplines. But, as Richard Helgerson shows in this ambitious and wide-ranging study, all were part of an extraordinary sixteenth- and seventeenth-century enterprise: the project of making England.

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Prompted by Edmund Spenser's question, "Why a God's name, may not we, as else the Greeks, have the kingdom of our own language?", literary historian Helgerson views 16th-century England as a kingdom in search of its national identity. He analyzes examples of poetry, law, cartographic descriptions, accounts of overseas expansion, theater, and religious opinion of the times, using such diverse works as Spenser's Faerie Queene , Coke's Institutes of the Laws of England , Camden's Britannia , Speed's Theater of the Empire of Great Britain , Drayton's Poly-Olbion , Hakluyt's Principal Navigations of the English Nation , Shakespeare's English history plays, and Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. He then skillfully demonstrates how each of these works, in its own way, reflected England's attempt to resolve the conflict between antiquity and the Middle Ages, find its place on the map, question monarchic power, and represent social communities, in a unique era of national self understanding. Recommended for academic libraries.
- Jacqueline Adams, Carroll Cty. P.L., Westminster, Md.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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