Defending Literature in Early Modern England: Renaissance Literary Theory in Social Context

Synopsis

Robert Matz analyzes the defense of literature in Renaissance England in the context of social transformations of the period, particularly those affecting the aristocracy as it evolved from a feudal warrior class to a civil elite. Through close readings centered on works by Thomas Elyot, Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser, Matz argues that literature attempted to mediate a complex set of contradictory social expectations. His original study engages with important theoretical work such as Pierre Bourdieu's and offers a substantial critique of New Historicist theory.