Lawyers at Play: Literature, Law, and Politics at the Early Modern Inns of Court, 1558-1581

Hardcover | June 25, 2016

byJessica Winston

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Many early modern poets and playwrights were also members of the legal societies the Inns of Court, and these authors shaped the development of key genres of the English Renaissance, especially lyric poetry, dramatic tragedy, satire, and masque. But how did the Inns come to be literary centresin the first place, and why were they especially vibrant at particular times? Early modernists have long understood that urban setting and institutional environment were central to this phenomenon: in the vibrant world of London, educated men with time on their hands turned to literary pastimes forsomething to do. Lawyers at Play proposes an additional, more essential dynamic: the literary culture of the Inns intensified in decades of profound transformation in the legal profession. Focusing on the first decade of Elizabeth's reign, the period when a large literary network first developed around the societies, this study demonstrates that the literary surge at this time developed out of and responded to a period of rapid expansion in the legal profession and in the careerprospects of members. Poetry, translation, and performance were recreational pastimes; however, these activities also defined and elevated the status of inns-of-court men as qualified, learned, and ethical participants in England's "legal magistracy": those lawyers, judges, justices of the peace,civic office holders, town recorders, and gentleman landholders who managed and administered local and national governance of England. Lawyers at Play maps the literary terrain of a formative but understudied period in the English Renaissance, but it also provides the foundation for an argument thatgoes beyond the 1560s to provide a framework for understanding the connections between the literary and legal cultures of the Inns over the whole of the early modern period.

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Many early modern poets and playwrights were also members of the legal societies the Inns of Court, and these authors shaped the development of key genres of the English Renaissance, especially lyric poetry, dramatic tragedy, satire, and masque. But how did the Inns come to be literary centresin the first place, and why were they espec...

Jessica Winston is Professor of English at Idaho State University, where she specializes in sixteenth-century literature and Shakespeare. She is the author numerous articles are the early modern Inns of Court and, with James Ker, she is co-editor of Elizabethan Seneca: Three Tragedies (Modern Humanities Research Association, 2012).
Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:June 25, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198769423

ISBN - 13:9780198769422

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Lawyers at PlayPart I: Society at the Early Modern Inns of Court1. An Intellectual Topography of the Early Modern Inns of Court2. 'Minerva's Men': The Inns of Court in the 1560sPart II: The Translation of Learning3. Lyric Poetry: Forming a Professional Community4. Translatio Studii in Early Elizabethan EnglandPart III: Literary-Political Precedents5. A Mirror for Magistrates: Political Discourse and the Legal Magistracy6. Senecan Tragedy in Early Elizabethan EnglandPart IV:To Fashion an Institution7. Gorboduc in the Political Nation8. Marriage Plays at the Inns: Negotiating Professional JurisdictionConclusion: Lawyers at Play ReduxAppendices:app. 1 Literary Men of the Inns of Court, 1558-1572app. 2 First Editions of Classical Translations, 1558-1581app. 3 Description of Gorboduc at the Inner Temple